When we visited the recent 2014 Customer Contact EXPO at Olympia, London, speakers were focusing on how to achieve good service and value at EVERY customer touchpoint.

With customers using everything from mobile, to email to webchat to communicate with contact centres and expecting a fast and helpful response, speakers concluded that technology should play a large part in meeting their needs, as must well-trained staff.

They agreed that, in order to achieve a seamless customer experience regardless of how a customer makes contact, systems must be joined up and simple to use. Rostrvm sees this every day – contact centres trying to help customers without having one, single database from which to retrieve their information. You can only achieve a single view and complete visibility of a customer’s history by harnessing your data properly, be it email, address, phone number etc and then creating a proper record.

Several speakers highlighted that, to achieve success however, it’s crucial to devote time to determining the required outcomes from the contact centre and really understanding who your customers are and what they – and you – want. This may sound obvious but sometimes, for example, customers may not need – or want – multichannel, even if you do!

An interesting comment came from the contact centre head of a support line for Macmillan Cancer Support. Bianca Fernandez said that some 97% of Macmillan’s traffic is via telephone because people, unsurprisingly, wanted to talk. Cancer care must be one of the toughest ‘customer’ service challenges and, as such, has some great lessons for the rest of us. Bianca described the importance of having a ‘Contact centre with a Helpline Heart’ to deal with it, which is a great phrase.

Macmillan is the first UK charity to receive CCA (Customer Contact Association) accreditation and listening to Bianca describing their contact centre brought home the basic needs that all customers have – to be helped in an efficient but respectful way.

The Macmillan contact centre advisors use Microsoft Dynamics CRM because accessing the right information about the caller at the right time is crucial.

Its phrase‘Contact centre with a Helpline Heart’ distils exactly what customers expect from any contact centre these days, regardless of what channel they use. And at Macmillan a phone call is the best way to achieve this because it’s human, not machine. Other contact centres are finding this out, particularly those trying to improve their customer service and complaints handling.

The part technology plays is to make interactions more efficient, as with the link to CRM.

In the case of multichannel, automation of contact to direct it from all channels to the telephone is another useful innovation. Here’s an example: a prospect starting, but not completing, a quotation on your website represents a clear business opportunity. Precision dialling can transfer that information from your website to your dialler, giving you the ability to call your prospect straight away. Similarly, requests for contact such as emails, tweets and chats can be fed into the dialler to enable advisors to provide a fast, personal response to customers.

Technology like this, together with fully prepared people, is what will achieve that good service and value regardless of customer touchpoint – and make the successful contact centres of the future.