Why a Customizable Contact Center is Key to Great Customer Journeys

Customize your contact center to keep up with new channels, new interactions, and new customer preferences. This article is the second in a six-part series on how to create a great customer journey with your contact center.

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Why a Customizable Contact Center is Key to Great Customer Journeys

Being able to customize your contact center to create the exact customer journey you want sounds great in theory. But the fact is, contact center software has historically been difficult (and expensive) to customize—often requiring specialized professional services even for small changes. For decades, businesses have been boxed in by the classic contact center challenge: big expenses for minor improvements. When you’re limited by this legacy contact center model, you can’t respond quickly to changes in customer behavior.

The Difference Between Programmability and Configurability

The reason for this dilemma comes down to the difference between configurability and programmability. Both programmability and configurability are examples of how contact center software can be customized or changed to meet specific business needs, but they aren’t the same thing. If a contact center is configurable, you can change specific elements of the software to the degree the vendor allows—such as the look and feel of the UI—but not the underlying functionality. Whereas a programmable contact center gives you the ability to make large-scale changes using code.

Programmability allows you to treat your contact center stack as a modern web application, making it considerably easier to build and maintain. While many cloud contact center solutions offer a limited degree of configurability, programmability allows you to take customization much further.

On-Premise vs. Cloud Solutions

Customizing on-premise software usually requires expertise for the platform that most companies don’t have in-house. Many on-premise platforms will only allow you to make changes with a set of proprietary SDKs. This skill set has a steep learning curve and often requires specialized certifications. Businesses are often forced to work with first-party professional services teams or third-party systems integrators to implement and customize their contact centers — which can require lengthy development cycles and can be cost-prohibitive to do frequently.

Cloud-based contact center solutions can be quick to deploy out of the box, and configurations can be faster and easier to make than on-premise systems. You can use insights from your customer data to improve many aspects of the customer journey. However, the ability to customize can be very limited by the scope and extent of configurations allowed by the vendor. Unless a contact center is fully programmable, you still won’t be able to change the underlying functionality.

Building Customizable Customer Experiences

The overarching goal of contact center customization is flexibility. Since customer needs are constantly evolving and technology is changing all the time, you don’t want to build a contact center solution that will soon be obsolete. Instead, you want to continue to customize your contact center to keep up with new channels, new interactions, and new customer preferences. And you want to be able to make these changes quickly and for as little cost as possible.

Creating great customer experiences requires a platform that enables constant experimentation and incremental iteration. When your contact center is integrated with your CRM and other systems, you can use analytics to track, measure, and iterate on all parts of the customer journey. You can experiment via A/B testing to create an ongoing superior customer experience and essentially update your contact center with the same ease as updating your web page or mobile app. However, with traditional cloud contact center solutions, businesses are limited in how much they can customize and still be covered by their solution’s SLA.

Why You Need Data Integration

Since every interaction you have with your customers flows through your contact center, you’re constantly collecting a highly valuable asset: data. Using that data effectively can help you make important decisions to drive the success of your business. However, most businesses utilize multiple applications to collect and store various types of data. You might use one tool for marketing analytics while another app helps you optimize agent performance. And if that data is scattered among siloed systems, you’ll not only miss out on the benefits of integrating all that great data, but you could fail to meet your business goals by letting important information fall through the cracks.

That’s why it’s critical to choose a contact center solution which offers complete data integration. Your contact center should be able to extract data from third-party tools, collect it one place, and route it to the right department or agent at the right time. Choose a solution that either automates or has software that makes the following processes fully customizable, including complete data integration:

Workforce Management (WFM)

Forecasting workload and scheduling staff is critical for every contact center. Overstaffing leads to higher labor costs while understaffing results in a unsatisfactory customer experiences due to long wait times. Contact centers use WFM software to forecast load and provide scheduling suggestions (or create schedules) automatically.

Workforce Optimization (WFO)

Contact centers need to ensure that all their interactions with customers are performed to the same standard through quality checks. Contact centers use WFO software to manage these quality checks, and in some cases, automate them.

Reporting & Analytics

Contact centers need to be able to measure and report on their key KPIs (Average Handle Time, CSAT, NPS, First Call Resolution Rate, Agent Utilization, etc.). While some contact centers come with built-in reporting, their functionality is limited, so many businesses use third-party reporting products.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Every contact center with more than a couple of agents in a room needs the ability to ‘screen pop’ to their system of record (e.g., a CRM). This gives agents visibility into customer records and history in the context of the call.

Without these ancillary tools, it’s not possible to operate a contact center at scale. However, data integration will ensure your contact center makes the most of all of the data you collect, process, and store, regardless of how many third-party services you use.

Building a Modern Contact Center

When you have total control over your contact center roadmap, you can build customized communications for your customers’ unique needs. Customization saves time, both by providing contextual information to agents and by getting each customer to the right agent for the task. For outbound contact centers, such as those focused on sales, customization can result in conversion uplift.

The classic contact center model is based on inflexible and proprietary platforms. But with a fully customizable cloud-based contact center, you aren’t locked into a vendor’s limited roadmap or restricted by the abilities of telecommunications hardware. You have the freedom to build the exact customer experience you want with the specific capabilities you need, iterating on the experience that only you know is appropriate for your customers.

Want to dive deeper? Download the Four Essential Ingredients for a Modern Contact Center e-book.

Check out Part 1 for an overview of the four key ingredients to building a great customer journey, Part 3 for insights into omnichannel, Part 4 for a deep dive into contextual intelligence, Part 5 to understand the importance of trust and scale, and don’t miss Part 6 for the difference between SaaS, CPaaS, and CCaaS.