Work Life

When Your Washer Leaks, Call These People Last

Photo of Holger Reisinger
June 28, 2016
Reading time
3 minutes

New technologies enable us to fix things we previously left to the pros. That means a new and exciting future role for contact centers: expert problem solver – the ones we call when we’ve run out of options.

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I’ve seen the future of contact centers… reflected in my washer.

Trust me, I haven’t gone stark-raving mad. But I have been doing a lot of reading lately, including an article about the dramatic increase in people who, instead of calling a repair expert, are fixing their complex home appliances all by themselves.

This trend would seem to defy logic, since even a cursory glance at the newest models shows that they’re more complicated and feature-packed than ever. But it’s true.What’s enabling the do-it-yourself movement? The Internet, of course. It’s jammed with self-help forums and YouTube videos that can help even novices who barely know a hammer from a screwdriver to diagnose and fix complex products like refrigerators, wash machines, lawnmowers – even cars.

This trend is great for consumers and awful for repair professionals. But the opportunity it presents for contact centers is what’s particularly intriguing. It points to a new and exciting future where contact center professionals will play an increasingly important and strategic role in an organization’s customer service efforts.

The Transition to Complex Problem-Solvers

With this self-service trend firmly entrenched, contact centers are poised to be the area-of-last-resort for consumers who can’t resolve their issue through a company’s self-service portal or on their own using the Internet. Consumers will turn to them for fast, accurate answers to increasingly complex issues.

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A recent survey backs this glimpse of the near future, with 54% of contact contract professionals agreeing that the contact centers of 2020 will focus largely on complex problem-solving – resolving the issues that cannot be addressed through traditional self-service options.

This strategic shift will require some effort, both among organizations and contact center agents. In their new roles as expert problem-solvers and communicators, agents will need to become increasingly knowledgeable about their company’s products and services. Organizations will need to offer plenty of high-quality training to ensure that agents have expert-level knowledge about the products they’ll be required to troubleshoot.

This shift will also require new technologies for finding and sharing information throughout the organization. Companies will need to invest in systems that can help agents quickly find and share information, everything from the common to the obscure. They’ll also need smart internal databases that catalog each agent’s skills and knowledge, enabling agents who can’t resolve an issue to quickly find an available coworker who can.

This new paradigm is great news for contact center agents. No longer will their jobs be routine affairs in which they merely confirm that a payment was in fact made or explain a why a delivery got lost. In fact, to reflect their elevated status, contact center professionals will no longer be evaluated on the number of calls they take but rather on customer satisfaction. And look for their pay to increase as an acknowledgement of their increased knowledge and value to the organization.

Last I checked, my washer was working perfectly. But if it goes out, it’s comforting to know I’ll have the backing of trained experts who can help me get it running again in no time.

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