The rise of multi-channel customer contact puts an onus on all of us to identify and deploy the best technologies out there to help us do our jobs better and keep our increasingly demanding customers happy.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it ? We all know technology is there to enable us to do things smarter, faster and more cost-effectively, yet when it comes to engaging with technology providers, the dialogue can often be adversely affected by a gulf in understanding between the companies that make the kit or devise the solutions and the people responsible for front line customer service operations.

But we really need to have those conversations and to make them more meaningful to ensure that our contact centres are properly equipped to cope with seismic changes in customer behaviour. 

The wider CCA network includes some of the most advanced technology players in the contact centre space, not to mention some of the biggest technology companies in the world - which gives members a golden opportunity to hold frank discussions on how best-in-breed solutions can be integrated into current systems or replace outmoded technology which may be struggling to cope in a multi-channel environment.

New research from BT this week threw up several arresting statistics which underline how rapidly customer behaviour is changing.

While voice remains the number one channel for customer contact, the percentage using webchat has jumped from single figures to 23% and one-in-five are now using Twitter or Facebook, making social media an increasingly important channel from a service and reputational perspective. The growing popularity of Facetime and Skype also means that online visual communication is also becoming potentially more important from a service standpoint.

We attended Cisco’s European Customer Collaboration Day for Analysts in London this week where we were privy to the latest smart thinking on the four major trends driving change in the customer contact environment: mobile, social, virtual and visual (look out for a fuller update in the next edition of inTouch).

Cisco, which is investing significantly in the contact centre market, painted an exciting picture of ‘pop-up’ remote experts’ who can be summoned to serve the complex needs of individual customers ‘face-to-face’- even if they are oceans apart, enlarging the reach of experts contact centres can call upon.

Cisco takes a partnership approach to delivering solutions and there is evidence that smart partnering can harness technology to reduce both complexity and cost for customers.

Cisco was also involved as a technology partner in a major announcement this week from BT Global Services which revealed its new vision of customer service for what it calls the ‘omnichannel generation’. BT outlined details of a new deal with Tesco which is using BT Cloud Contact technology to provide a more flexible and responsive customer contact service. It enables Tesco to virtualise its contact centre services, making it easier to cope with peaks and troughs and also allowing 200 homeworkers to work from a virtual agent position in their own home.

At Convention last year our Future Scenarios scoped out a future of ‘Martini Agents’ working via the cloud any time, any place, anywhere. This week’s developments drive home the message that in many ways the future is already here: the challenge is to make sure customer service providers have the tools they need to stay on top of the game.

For more information on outputs and follow ups why not contact the team or visit