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First, I would like to start with a full disclosure:  I have not spent my career in the contact center industry. I recently joined Telex and this is my first inside exposure to the industry. But isn’t an outsider’s perspective interesting sometimes?

When a contact center veteran is asked about innovation in the industry, they will often talk about the advances in telephony technology and the functionality of something like interactive voice response solutions. For many people and industries, innovation has become synonymous with technology.

As an industry outsider with a passion for value creation, I have been truly impressed with the contact center industry’s ability to continually drive down the cost to support patients, consumers and B2B partners. Manufacturing centric industries get the credit for developing disciplines such as Lean Six Sigma. But the contact center industry has leveraged innovative business models (i.e. offshoring) and technology enabled innovation (i.e. skills based routing) to consistently improve operational efficiencies.

First-call resolution rate by vertical market

 Source: The US Contact Center Decision-Makers’ Guide 2013


Improvements in First-Call Resolution Rates are great, but as a patient and consumer, what has the contact center industry done for ME? Initially “innovative technologies” meant me having to go through frustrating menu driven calls to get the support I needed, which usually required talking to a person at some point anyway. But, improvements have been made over time where interactive voice response solutions allow me to conveniently refill a medication prescription, check my account balance, or quickly get to the person that has the expertise needed to support me. Thank you!

But I don’t want to have to call an 800 number ever again… and I am not even part of Generation Y, where the concept of calling someone to get something done seems prehistoric.

Last weekend I wanted to cancel an antivirus software subscription because we no longer use the PC at home. I went online to figure out how to cancel the subscription and a customer service processional from the company initiated a chat session asking me if I needed help.  I said I wanted to cancel my renewal and the response was to call an 800 number. Ugh!  The phone call was relatively painless, I was able to process my request, and I even agreed to do the post call survey. (I have to do this now that I am in the industry, right??)

Multi-channel patient and consumer care is innovation that leverages social, online communication, telephony and other technologies to drive efficiencies by lowering the cost per interaction and improving first contact resolutions rates. But most organizations still have work to do before they can deliver a seamless omni-channel experience that provides value to the patient and consumer.

The integration of multi-channel solutions is also required to enable scale. In my next post, I will explore how a few macroeconomic, demographic and climate trends are going to require the contact center industry to adapt and scale to meet challenges you might not even be thinking about.

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