How to improve your call center customer experience strategy for 2019
Providing better customer experiences (CX) is a hot button issue that has become increasingly critical to forward-thinking call centers over the last few years. While expectations were high for CX initiatives, business outcomes failed to deliver the bottom line results expected by C- suite executives.
Call center leaders realize that the time has come to deliver real measurable value to the enterprise. 2019 will be a critical year for call center customer experience strategy: either they will finally move the needle or risk elimination.
It doesn’t just come down to good or bad luck for call centers, though. To deliver value in 2019, call center leaders must select a CX initiative that can immediately demonstrate ROI. This initiative must be directly correlated with a KPI that is tied to revenue or with a costly inefficiency within the organization.
For instance, customer satisfaction/retention-related initiatives that demonstrate a clear impact on retention rates, or self-service initiatives that drive a reduction in operational costs, or engagement/customer journey initiatives that clearly correlate with increased sales.
However, aside from short term ROI, improving your call center customer experience strategy requires careful consideration for the long term as well. To achieve both short and long term benefits, three critical elements must be aligned: business objectives, infrastructure and technologies.
Once aligned, contact center leaders must prioritize carefully and make smart choices in order to show ROI in the short term, while building robust foundations towards greater impact in the long term, as key technologies mature.
Aligning business objectives with contact center performance
Over the last five years, a number of key business trends have emerged that have been steadily gaining traction. Contact center leaders can study these trends, and find within each of them a call center customer experience strategy that delivers proven ROI to the business.
Personalized experiences: Consumer expectations have dramatically changed over the last decade. No longer satisfied with mass content delivery, consumers expect to receive highly customized messaging that meets their individual interests. They are willing to sacrifice their privacy by sharing their data in exchange for these personalized experiences.
True omni-channel experience: Many of today’s companies recognize that customers want to contact an enterprise from anywhere at any time and from any device and platform—web, voice, chat, messaging, social media, video and email—and therefore support multiple channels of customer engagement.
Self-service: Self-service is slowly emerging as the holy grail of modern CX. At its best, it is preferred by consumers and profitable for the enterprise. While we’re a long way from delivering human-like interactive automated experiences, with recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and computer vision, self-service can now more easily understand the customer’s issue and determine the path to resolution, enabling customers to address the issue themselves without further delay.
Infrastructure: Accelerated digital transformation
Contact center leaders have now come to terms with the need for integrated cloud-based platforms that properly connect consumers, the enterprise and its representatives. As part of the journey toward complete digital transformation, these platforms easily store, share and process the constant flow of data streaming through the contact center. This effort is focused in two main directions:
Data integration flow and administration: Collecting and analyzing the mass amounts of business and customer data available to them, provides contact center leaders with both customer insights and a basis for future automation. Painting a 360-degree picture of a customer drives better decision-making, personalized CX and ultimately, more satisfied customers.
Digital customer journey: A robust cloud-based infrastructure is required to provide a seamless journey from first engagement with a company through final resolution – purchase or customer service concern – ensuring the customer has continuous access to the company on his terms.
Once engaged, companies must ensure smooth transitions and handovers from channel to channel throughout the entire customer lifecycle. Failing to meet consumers’ digital journey expectations when in need of support and assistance can quickly lead them directly to your competitors.
Technologies: Data Analytics, AI, AR solutions
As contact centers move beyond the standard ticketing, CRM and IVR systems, three primary fields of technology have emerged at the forefront of proven, results-driven innovation.
Data analytics: A range of data-based tools exist to ensure contact center operations are running at peak performance. These tools analyze massive amounts of data related to consumer interaction, workforce management and operations.
To find the solution that delivers value to your organization, start with the problems, or the pain points, that exist within your organization. Once connected to your digital data, the right analytics solution will provide clear insights into the changes and fixes that must be implemented in order to improve and drive ROI.
Data analytics can also help you manage resources and improve performance simply by isolating the root cause of failure and success.
AI & Machine learning: AI is typically defined as a machine’s ability to perform the cognitive functions typically associated with human minds.
AI builds on the data collected and the insights provided during analysis, and puts them to work. While AI has been a source of frustration over the last few years due to unrealistic expectations, as the technology continues to improve some AI-based solutions are showing clear benefits.
For example, while an AI-driven chatbot may not yet be able to independently resolve a customer’s issue from A-Z, it can deliver clear value such as gathering customer data and assigning the case to the most appropriate agent.
Another example is AI that assist agents in recommending next-best actions based on information submitted by the consumers. Advanced AI computer vision can even visually recognize objects and their associated issues and resolutions. AI can also assist with overall operations, such as managing contact center traffic.
Augmented Reality: Augmented reality is an interactive technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world.
In today’s digital world which is quickly becoming hyper visual, AR is clearly emerging as a crucial method of communication, delivering better engagement and efficiency.
AR enables consumers to experiment and “try” products before they buy them. It also enables company representatives to visually point consumers to a desired action, resulting in fast and efficient resolution of issues.
These relatively simple AR applications have been proven to positively impact both sales and service. For example, “try before you buy” has increased sales in the cosmetics industry, and AR-driven customer assistance has reduced technician dispatches (truck rolls) and product returns with no fault found.
When taking a holistic view of CX in 2019, three drivers must be in place to ensure your company’s call center customer experience strategy is poised to deliver real value. Business objectives, such as personalization, omni-channel experiences and self-service tools must be aligned with your CX strategy. Your infrastructure must be strengthened to support your digital transformation, including data integration and the digital customer journey. Investments in next-generation technologies, such as data analytics, AI and machine learning, and augmented reality, must be a priority in order to capitalize on the captured customer data. With these three elements, businesses will be well equipped to meet customer- and business-driven demands for CX excellence in 2019.