Even in today's increasingly digital, self-service-focused customer engagement environment, many businesses have an ongoing need for high-quality receptionist and operator capability that can support a level of service closely tailored to their needs. Inevitably though, the kind of approach they choose will be heavily dependent on the nature of their business.
In this article we're going to look at the key criteria businesses need to consider before making a choice of operator console technology – whether they are introducing new systems or changing their existing ways of working – and we'll provide some top tips about how they can get the most out of the approach.
Ensure you have some form of directory integration in place
It doesn't matter what your business does and how you are currently routing calls or interactions, if you don't have a real-time handle on who your key people are, what their job title is, what device they are using and whether they are in a meeting or not, you can't make intelligent screening or routing decisions. So you need a directory in place and it needs to be easily integrated with your overall business systems.
Make sure your approach aligns with your business brand
If you're focused on delivering low-cost services quickly and efficiently rather than providing high-quality customer service, you might not want a setup that supports large volumes of people interacting with a human receptionist. But if you're an expensive brand that sells on the value of the customer experience, then you probably will. You need to get your brand proposition clear before you move forward with the console technology required to support it.
Get a handle on the granular detail
You need to consider not just your strategic objectives and brand identity but also staff numbers, and how geographically dispersed they are – what sort of time zones you are operating in, the nature of the customer base and the value of the interactions you are handling. All of these key elements enable you to shape your view of what your customer service offering should look like, and how the human-to-human console element should look within it.
Strike the right balance between automated and human
Some businesses route everything through the operator centre but it can be expensive and at least some of the interactions could be bypassed without reducing the quality of the customer experience. Other organisations, in a bid to drive down costs, seem to make it as difficult as possible for customers to speak to them personally.
You need to strike the right balance between human-to-human and human-to-machine interaction. It's difficult to get it right of course – there's no set formula. It will depend on the customer profile, the devices being used, and the times of day interactions occur.
Choose a system that is intuitive and easy to use
If you wind back the clock a decade or so, operator consoles were typically large, bespoke pieces of hardware that sat on the receptionist's front desk. Over time, they have transitioned into desktop PCs and internal roles have blurred, with more people now given responsibilities to fulfil an informal call reception function while sitting at their desks.
This has led to fundamental changes in the way users want to interact with operator console software. People increasingly want to change the shape of their software to use touchscreen, for example, and to have less functionality and complexity. So look for console technology that enables you to turn off features and functions and provide the flexibility and exact fit individual users are looking for. It's a trend we are likely to see becoming more and more prominent over time.
Attendant consoles can act as a filter not just an enabler
It's worth remembering that while the attendant console can help route calls and enable customers to access employees who can help answer their queries, it can also effectively act as a broker or filter, preventing key staff from being interrupted unnecessarily by unwanted callers.