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Call centres evolve to digital self-service

Posted By: DSG



Call centres evolve to digital self-service

The contact centre industry is changing at a faster rate as the result of technologies like cloud computing, and also concerns over customer support costs. The rise of the always-on consumer, who expects constant uninterrupted access to brands through channels that suit them, has also changed the landscape.

According to Yaron Assabi, founder of Digital Solutions Group, an outsource partner for multi-channel commerce and relationship marketing, there is an increased reliance on digital self-service and a decline in traditional channels (like phone or e-mail support) offered by the traditional call centre.

For many companies, outsourcing is the best way to keep up with constant technology enhancements, evolving needs of the customers and business process requirements, says Assabi. "Business is dynamic and changes all the time, therefore there is a requirement to be agile, especially with staffing and training requirements."




Assabi points out virtual contact centres are becoming more appealing for entrepreneurs and SMEs looking to reduce expenditure and improve customer relationships. He notes the transition to the virtual contact centre model, which offers self-service channels, plays a significant supporting role to other traditional channels.

There are, however, challenges to adopting the virtual contact centre in SA, says Assabi. There is a lack of IT skills or agility to deal with staff members who work from home or work flexible hours. The 24/7 operations and flexible staffing models require stringent workforce management practices and performance management, he adds.

As a result, many organisations are not geared to respond appropriately and at the fast pace customers expect when using these platforms, says Assabi.

"Many businesses may find themselves asking if they can justify the expense of a virtual contact centre model. What they should be asking is how long they can afford to not have an integrated contact centre."

He believes organisations that fail to invest in transforming their contact centres into relationship platforms, capable of meeting the fast-evolving expectations of consumers, risk being left at a competitive disadvantage.

With technology continuously evolving, companies and contact centre providers need to be flexible and willing to adapt to changing market requirements and new channels used by their customers, says Assabi.

He points out in the past, digital customer self-service channels were not big in SA because of the high cost and low penetration of smartphones and broadband connectivity. However, the advent of mobile broadband and low-cost smartphones is driving a massive growth in self-care, which is why businesses need to invest in virtual contact centre technologies, he concludes.