Image: Bruce von Maltitz, director of contact centre technology firm, 1Stream.

CAPE TOWN - Speed of response is the first step to getting and keeping customers in a highly competitive and cluttered online environment. Contact centres play a pivotal role in this process.

Rapid engagement, efficient workflow and customer retention should be the goals of every modern contact centre, according to Bruce von Maltitz, director of contact centre technology firm, 1Stream.

Bruce von Maltitz says consumers have more choice than ever and critical decisions happen early in the business cycle.

“People looking for goods or services typically start with Google, choose a supplier and start their interaction with that organisation."

"When they select your site, it needs to be easy for them to engage with you and quickly get what they want. If they don’t, there are four other companies already on their shortlist that are keen to do a better job than you have,” he says.

A Click-To-Call button on a website is a good way to optimise a company’s presence and build customer engagement.

“All the customer has to do is tap the button to speak to an agent, using either voice or video,” says Von Maltitz. “Another option is for companies to include a Call Back feature on their sites which allows the client to input their number and the centre can then call them back at a convenient time.”

Managing call centre workflow is also pivotal to securing deals.

“For example,” says von Maltitz, “if a call centre agent responds to a query and the customer’s phone is engaged, they shouldn’t be writing down call back reminders on pieces of paper. Systems that record, manage and methodically deal with any issues that may arise need to be in place. The easier you make it for someone to engage with you, the better your chances of securing the deal.”

Von Maltitz says business tools need to engage with customers in a way that will impress and retain them.

“Many of the really competitive industries - such as insurance and motoring - use solutions that provide them with their leads at a critical point in the customer’s purchase cycle. The person who gets back to the customer first will secure their business, so we focus on getting our clients to their customers first.”

He says to truly transform customer engagement and retention in a market that is not only highly competitive, but facing shrinking budgets, businesses should invest in technology that makes this engagement easy and engaging.

“The call has to be well-timed, the interaction smooth, and the contact quick. The first to connect wins the deal. This is the new era of the contact centre where speed is a determining factor in success,” says von Maltitz.

- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE