Delivering the Digital Contact Centre

30 May, 2013 by Alex Douglas-Jones

The march to digital continues at pace, transforming the way we buy products, access public services and receive service from organisations. We are becoming far more comfortable self-serving for things over digital channels than ever before, paying our council tax online and even checking for ourselves where our delivery has got to. But where does this leave the contact centre?

People have been predicting the death of the contact centre since the first e-commerce website went live; however we believe that, far from forcing the contact centre onto its death bed, digital channels are actually giving contact centres a new lease of life. As transactional enquiries migrate to self-serve channels, the contact centre agent is being freed up to really add value to the customer relationship. We believe there are three key ways in which they can do this:


1)     Delivering the digital experience – What many people forget when they talk about new digital channels, such as chat and social media, is that it is the contact centre that actually delivers these channels. Contact centres will continue to adapt to new channels, just as they did when they moved from being call to contact centres. Delivering telephone, chat, videochat, social media and email all in one place delivers both economies of scale to the organisation and a better experience to the customer by providing consistent messaging and a single view of the customer’s interactions. Leading organisations are starting to look at how customers can move from one channel to another within the context of a single conversation; for example a complaint call about a new television not working can quickly be transformed into a live customer tutorial by switching to videochat. Alongside delivering these new channels, the contact centre will also always have a role to play in migrating customers to online channels and in supporting them when they can’t find what they need online.


2)     Proactively managing the omni-channel experience – As customers increasingly interact with organisations across multiple channels, it’s easy for things to fall between the gaps. A customer might browse online, book a face to face appointment, but then never follow up their interest. Each channel is managing the experience it delivers, but nobody is seeing the bigger picture. With access to data from multiple touchpoints through CRM and other systems, the contact centre is uniquely placed to understand the end-to-end experience and proactively intervene. If a customer is browsing online and then doesn’t complete the transaction, technology allows the contact centre to recognise this and proactively offer a webchat or even call the customer.


3)     Driving value through information and insight – This central role managing the omni-channel experience offers the contact centre access to rich sources of customer data, which it is increasingly well placed to act upon as agents are freed up from processing transactional enquiries as they migrate online. Organisations need to empower the contact centre to help the customer, whether through advanced analytics and ‘real-time’ decision engines or, at the most basic level, through training agents in what to look out for. However it is achieved, empowering your frontline can deliver significant business benefits across multiple industry sectors. In the retail world, agents can use information from the online experience to drive additional sales, understanding which pages customers looked at and moved on from and resolving any questions they may have had. In Utilities, energy consumption data is readily available and overlaid with tariff suggestions to save the customer money and reduce churn in the organisation. In the public sector, technology is beginning to help agents recommend the right package of benefits.


So, how best to realise the opportunities for the Digital Contact Centre? Contact centres need to develop new capabilities to help them meet the challenge of the digital age. We need to invest in contact centre agent skills, creating a new breed of advisor, adept at managing written as well as verbal communication and able to multi-task across multiple interactions, providing insight rather than information. These agents will need to be managed in a different way, with performance metrics changing to reflect the different outcomes expected and the need to manage the omni-channel experience. Organisational structures will also need to change, bringing responsibility for digital channels and analytics properly into the contact centre arena and structuring teams to deliver maximum value to the customer. Finally, technology needs to support the contact centre’s new role, with dynamic knowledge management tools supporting these new ‘knowledge workers’ alongside the realtime decisioning that helps them have the right conversations with the right customers.  Delivering all this is far from easy, however we believe that the benefits are there for those who are willing to move their contact centres fully into the digital age.


If you want to know more, please download our recent paper on this subject here, or contact either Richard Keay ( or Alex Douglas-Jones ( within our customer service consulting team.