Q&A Session About The Future Of Contact Center Industry

Voiptime Cloud asks questions to SKWeston & Company, the Global BPO Consulting, and Professional services company located in Washington DC, US. Specifically, we interviewed Kevin Lasky and Steve Weston to find out the future of the contact center industry.

Really, the managers of contact centers all over the globe want to know the most challenging questions in their day-by-day work. Find out the valuable questions now by reading this amazing Q&A session below.

Short Bio:

Kevin Lasky is Vice President of Operations & Managed Services at SKWeston & Company and an innovative business leader with experience managing large complex business and IT programs. Kevin has held multiple Senior Level jobs in small consulting firms, with experience managing a billion-dollar network expansion project for a major telecommunications company, leading strategy & acquisitions for a retail company and providing advisory and implementation services related to ERP and customer service solutions. 

Kevin’s strengths include leadership, communication, enabling customers to visualize solutions, and establishing a roadmap leading to the solutions.

Steve Weston is a Managing Partner at SKWeston & Company and is a 30+ year BPO industry leader with executive experience leading BPO companies and transformational client solutions. His company SKWeston & Company, LLC. provides global consulting in developing Operational Strategic Plans to Fortune 100/500 companies along with BPOs.

Steve provides expertise to nations, captives & BPOs in the developing stages of providing global contact center and outsourcing strategies. He has also been a healthcare vertical strategic advisor to the Republic of Georgia, Singapore, and the UK.  Previously, Steve has held executive positions at Convergys, SITEL, and United Health Group.

Voiptime Cloud: What are the major trends in the contact center industry at the end of 2021 and beyond? And how have these trends impacted the relationships between company and customer?

Steve Weston: A couple of the major trends going into 2022 are companies focusing on WFH and Hybrid models & significant spending on Security & Technology.

  • Companies need to be prepared for attrition based on the decisions they make about WFH vs Hybrid vs Full Time in Office
  • As labor costs continue to rise companies will focus on technology to deflect and handle more calls
  • As agents continue to WFH security & PII will become more important to companies as they try to build trust and service their customers

Voiptime Cloud: What are the main business processes that must be changed in contact centers in order to meet the expectations of customers?

Kevin Lasky: At SKWeston we believe there are two main areas that need be addressed to meet the expectations of customers:

  1. Customers demand consistency across all channels (IVR, Web, Chat) and this is often overlooked when companies decide to invest in one area and not the others.
  2. Work From Home (WFH) – In order to maintain the level of service that customers have come to expect from many companies they need to develop Performance Management, Coaching and Communication processes for WFH as a lot of that has slipped during the shift to WFH during COVID 19.

Voiptime Cloud: During the pandemic and post-pandemic period, are there real blueprints to maintain high motivation, productivity, and performance of agents? And how does it differ in the WFH, Hybrid, and office-based environment?

Kevin Lasky: The short answer is yes; the long answer is that there isn’t a one size fits all blueprint and a lot of it will depend on whether the organization is a Sales or Customer Service organization. The same tenants will apply across all environments (WFH, Hybrid & Office Based) but how they are implemented/executed will vary depending on the environment. For example, in a sales environment where when in office a company may be able to display prizes in a central location will now have to adjust to build interest and intrigue in competitions by sending out emails, utilizing the intranet and messaging programs.

Voiptime Cloud: In the US, is it better to choose a WFH or Hybrid work environment deliberately, or is it better to switch to one of them, if necessary? 

Steve Weston: We believe that there is value in being able to switch nimbly between WFH and a traditional in Office solution as there are still many unknowns about COVID-19. However, from an employee satisfaction standpoint we believe it is very important that a company provide its agents with a stable solution.

Voiptime Cloud: How do WFH, Hybrid, and Office-based working impact SMBs and Enterprise?

Steve Weston: Companies of all sizes stand to gain a lot from being able to offer WFH and Hybrid solutions. For example, WFH & Hybrid models often allow for agents to have a better work-life balance as they can reduce long commutes, save employees money on meals as they can eat at home, and many other benefits. It is important that companies approach Hybrid and WFH models from the perspective of employee satisfaction and understand that not all employees work well in the same environment and that some that may not have needed support in the office will need it in WFH.

Voiptime Cloud: Does the pandemic change the contact center industry?

Kevin Lasky: Yes, there are a lot of different ways to look at this but some highlights of how it has changed the industry:

  • The quick switch to WFH proved that WFH was viable for the Contact Center Industry
  • Employees were more empowered than they had ever been before in the industry, driving up pay, benefits and WFH flexibility
  • The pandemic put a tremendous amount of pressure on technology to solve problems that didn’t exist before and in turn, has created a lot of opportunities for companies to upgrade technology and to improve the customer experience through technological advancements.

Voiptime Cloud: What is the most challenging question SKWeston faces from customers? 

Steve Weston: We are consistently asked to re-design/enhance their CX strategies and supporting Operating model. One of the first questions we ask is "Does the current CX Operations strategy match the Corp Strategy?" 90% of the time, the answer is "No, they do not sync up". This is why they are not achieving the original CX delivery goals assigned to Operations.

Voiptime Cloud: What are the top technology solutions you would recommend to have to every contact center in 2021 and beyond?

Kevin Lasky: 

  1. Moving to CCaaS from OnPrem – Allowing a client to move calls around the globe and to WFM with more ease
  2. A Strong WFM program/solution – This is key to enabling a successful WFH Operation
  3. A Strong Knowledgebase – Either looking at new technology or reviewing the content inside their current system again enables WFH to be more successful with a strong knowledgebase.

Voiptime Cloud: During a pandemic, are on-premise solutions for office-based contact centers pushed by switching to the cloud?

Steve Weston: Yes, there was already momentum in the industry moving this direction, but the pandemic accelerated the timeline for many companies.

Voiptime Cloud: Has the number of organizations that wish to switch to cloud contact centers increased, during the pandemic?

Steve Weston: We believe many companies already had plans to move to the cloud and that timelines were accelerated by the pandemic more than companies all of the sudden deciding they want to move into the cloud.

Voiptime Cloud: Which one is a more cost-effective, on-premise, or cloud solution for SMB?

Steve Weston: Cloud – You only pay for the licenses used each month.  So, if you have some cyclical business, you no longer have to pay for licenses you don’t need for that particular month. The other major area is Maintenance cost – no maintenance cost on Cloud vs Prem.

Voiptime Cloud: During the pandemic is the cloud contact software the most valuable solution for SMBs?

Steve Weston: It is hard to pinpoint the most valuable solution for SMBs during the pandemic because it truly does vary on the operation. For example, if an operation was using excel to manage WFM then they might view a new WFM system as the most valuable solution. Speaking on a broader sense the benefits that an organization is able to realize from a cloud solution are incredibly valuable to all businesses during the pandemic. To name a few, the ability to move calls between sites or WFH easily, real-time reporting, and maintenance.

Voiptime Cloud: What are the most demanding “agentless features” of the contact centers for SMBs (IVR, chatbot, SMS, voicemail, or all of them)?

Kevin Lasky: IVR, Chatbot and SMS are becoming the channels of choice for Customers.  For BPOs to be successful, they need to start providing such technology solutions for their clients. They will not survive, if they rely solely on seats and request their clients provide the technology components customers want most.  As mentioned above, the key to the success is service delivery needs to be consistent across all channels.  This will require sophisticated CRM/AI applications to enable consistency across all channels.  

Voiptime Cloud: Is it true that the level of irritation of customers from IVR, chatbot and other agentless features are increasing? Do customers wish to have more real conversations with the real agents?

Steve Weston: The irritation is lack of ability to service a customer, in many cases, the irritation is because those solutions were designed more as a FAQ vs a true conversation between a BOT and a Customer. The biggest mistake BPO/Call Centers are making is they are throwing together a Omni Channel (IVR, Web, Chat Bot, SMS) because that is what they are hearing what Customers want.  But “throwing these options together”, vs building tools that truly can interact with a Customer is worse than not offering it at all.

 

Conclusions

Is the contact center business still profitable? The answer is resounding - yes! You just saw the real situation and forecast of the future in the contact center industry. Perhaps some of these questions bring light to your questions? Either way, Voiptime Cloud company wishes that these answers serve you as a roadmap in the future!




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