Back Office Integration Coming to the Forefront in Customer Engagement
By Ken Landoline - Principal Analyst, Ovum
Posted in Customer Engagement
We have begun to see the boundaries of the contact center expanding as its functionality encroaches upon other departments within the enterprise, agents gain access to subject matter experts in other departments, and data silos have come together in the interest of improved customer service.
However, the melding of customer service capabilities with traditional back office functionality, such as order tracking, fulfilment, billing, and new account creation has been slow to occur. Ovum suspects that the front office/back office integration may have been hindered by strong organizational boundaries with protective managers, or the fact that in the past many enterprise business functions, including the contact center, have been outsourced, including some that were offshored. In these cases, integration between the front and back office operations would have been more difficult.
More recently, with many companies returning to insourcing contact centers and other processes, the trend toward channel digitization, and a growing number of operations incorporating Robotic Process Automation (RPA), the ability to link the front office and back office is somewhat easier to implement.
These changes will result in providing better and faster customer service, and even an economic advantage in operational costs which will speed the return on investment of sharing information and resources across the front and back offices. Since we know that a major portion of customer interactions with the contact center are initiated by events and issues involving the back office, such as slow order fulfillment, incorrect billing, order tracking, and follow up to insurance claims, it just makes sense for contact center agents to have knowledge of processes and happenings in the back office, as well as the ability to tap into back-office resources, such as subject matter experts, to assist in customer problem resolution.
Many enlightened corporations are aware of this and have already made changes to improve the links between these operations.
As the worlds of back office and front office operations come together, contact center agents will benefit by the improved customer service they are able to offer customers. However, the back office will also benefit by taking advantage of processes that have aided contact center operations for decades. One example would be workforce optimization (WFO) and workforce management (WFM) software, which has been used in the contact center to schedule personnel, identify the need for employee training, and manage and measure contact center agents’ job performance.
While operational tools such as WFM/WFO have been developed specifically for the contact center, enterprise WFM/WFO solutions have purpose-built functionality that enables organizations to shift these valuable operations tools to the back office so that other workers could benefit from them. There is no doubt that merging the operations and tools of the front office and back office would benefit companies with large and complex front- and back-office operations typically found in the financial, insurance and telecom industries, to name a few.
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