Customers ponder web-centric contact centre

Telstra and Westpac hail concept but do not commit to roll-out

Representatives from Telstra and Westpac hailed the arrival of web integration into the call centre at Genesys Laboratories’ user conference in Melbourne this month, but stopped short of committing themselves to web integration in their own organisations.

Customer service software company Genesys demonstrated tools and services to integrate the web into the contact centre to users at the G-Force Asia-Pacific conference.

The Telstra and Westpac representatives said web integration into the call centre has been talked about for a long time and pieces of it have been implemented, but the arrival of a practical solution is a real step forward.

Genesys has developed its web integration strategy in collaboration with online “expert community” operator LivePerson and other partners.

Integrating the web into the call centre goes hand-in hand with providing more interaction with the customer “in their hour of need”, when they are most ready to buy a product or service, says Jason Stirling, vice-president of Genesys Australia, India & New Zealand. Such live interaction could improve the disappointing 2% rate of conversion of web enquiries to sales.

At the point of making the final choice of a product and reassuring themselves, for example that their credit-card details are secure with the vendor, many customers “need a human conversation”, Stirling says. Let them leave the website without closing a sale and they may go to another vendor’s site or a bricks-and-mortar shop whose staffer knows more about the merits of a rival product, and the sale will have been lost.

In the support side of contact-centre work, many customers are used to the web and would prefer a conversation in that form than waiting in a queue for a voice call-centre or navigating a confusing interactive voice-response (IVR) system.

Queues could well be shorter owing to the ability of a web-oriented operator to conduct more than one conversation simultaneously, then if needed effortlessly pass on details of the conversation and attached metadata about the customer smoothly to the appropriate department.

Closer integration of experienced contact-centre staff into the internet mode of operation could also improve current low rates of response to customer emails, Stirling suggests.

With third-generation mobile phone services making the internet available on the handset, digital customer support will come full circle and back to the phone in a new form, he says. “The web could become the contact centre.”

• Stephen Bell travelled to G-force as a guest of Genesys

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