The practical realities of contact centre trends in 2020
While the potential of innovative contact centre technologies can be tempting, companies must first be certain these will solve business problems.
There is a disconnect between discussing technology trends and showing how they can operationally benefit contact centres and agents.
Part of this entails identifying the business challenges that need to be addressed and mapping the technology required to do so.
Furthermore, the organisation must examine how to practically implement solutions to further improve efficiency, productivity and customer experience.
Businesses have a significant amount of data in their contact centres, but agents still only have limited (if any) context of previous customer interactions. Furthermore, very little of this data is used to personalise and enhance the customer experience.
Companies must therefore find a way to bridge the gap between their data and operations. As part of this, the focus must be on identifying a customer at each touch point, capturing relevant information and using it to help guide a person through a more beneficial engagement journey.
For example, instead of having the caller listen to a menu of language options, the system can automatically select their preferred language based on what it knows about the customer. Also, a customer's profile and history with a business can be leveraged to improve the products a company provides.
The third aspect, arguably the most important one, is to use the interaction history of the customer to provide the agent with a more comprehensive view of all previous engagements to provide the context needed to resolve the query faster.
A focus on analytics will naturally lead to adopting self-service channels in more innovative ways.
However, this requires the business to think differently about how it uses customer information. Unlike an online shopping portal that takes data and uses it to make personalised recommendations and inform a customer about relevant product specials, few traditional businesses try and extract value out of their customer data.
Businesses must use customer profile and interaction data to not only identify who their customers are but also to gain a deeper understanding of the customer journey in dealing with the organisation too.
For example, a customer might have been struggling for weeks to resolve a query through e-mail, eventually resort to phoning the contact centre and it might be resolved immediately.
Based on traditional measuring tools, the fast response in addressing the query via the contact centre will reflect as great customer service. However, it doesn’t account for the customer’s frustration in having to deal with a non-responsive e-mail channel.
In addition, when it comes to managing the customer front line, contact centre staff must be able to access meaningful insights across all touch points to help improve the customer experience while they are engaging with the customer.
A focus on analytics will naturally lead to adopting self-service channels in more innovative ways. Of course, a company must first understand what it is that a customer wants, and how this can be provided in an effortless way if it is to provide relevant self-service options.
To this end, new self-service channels should never be introduced just for the sake of it, especially if it cannot service customers efficiently. Instead, a company must look at which channel best solves an identified problem.
This is where the advantages of each channel can be leveraged to achieve the best possible service and customer experience.
Furthermore, any customer contact channel should be capable of fielding the most common queries rather than offering only a few options and deferring customers to other channels. This only increases frustration and negatively impacts the experience.
It is easy in good economic times to not focus on providing a quality customer experience. But in more challenging market conditions such as the ones companies are experiencing now, every bit of advantage makes a significant difference.
If a business can differentiate itself by providing good customer service through self-service or other means, then customers are more likely to stay with the organisation as opposed to moving to a competitor.
Inevitably, artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics will combine to personalise interactions, improve customer options, and provide a more detailed level of service.
This is where the likes of chatbots through WhatsApp can come into play with natural language processing features. A person might be able to send voice notes to the bot which will not only identify the language used but respond with a voice note of its own in that language.
But even though the potential of such innovative technologies can be tempting, an organisation must never forget that these must solve business problems.
If there is no use case for a specific technology, then it makes no sense to spend resources on implementing it.
CEO of INOVO.
With over 10 years of operational and strategic experience in the South African contact centre industry, Wynand Smit's understanding of technology and its application to business has benefited multiple organisations across a variety of industries.
As CEO of contact centre solutions provider INOVO, he is passionate about using the contact centre as a platform to drive positive change in a business.
With over 10 years of operational and strategic experience in the South African contact centre industry, Wynand Smit's understanding of technology and its application to business has benefited multiple organisations across a variety of industries. As CEO of contact centre solutions provider INOVO, he is passionate about using the contact centre as a platform to drive positive change in a business.