Providing exceptional customer experience is the only source of sustainable differentiation in the competition to win the tech-savvy generation of customers, and the only way for contact centers to achieve this is through digital transformation. Nowadays, digital technology is affecting everything, including contact centers.
Contact Center Digitization
Customers’ demands and expectations are changing and they have a lot more power and control than before. Increased comfort with technology and high usage of digital channels are making the customers expect greater business transparency and corporate responsibility. They want digital self-service, mobile and social media engagement as they navigate between different channels
According to Dimension Data’s ‘2015 global contact center benchmarking report‘, 42% respondents say that there is a decline in voice-based customer services and 87% increase in non-voice customer service engagements.
This is the result of next generation digital customers who consider using web chat, social media, email and self-service channels more effective and convenient than a phone.
Owing to these increasing customer demands, contact centers are turning towards digitization. Social networks, mobile computing, analytics, and cloud computing are all significant technology trends being adopted by the contact centers which are creating major implications in customer service. Not incorporating digital mediums for customer engagement is no longer an option for call centers now.
With digital services, organizations can easily gauge and understand the entire customer journey and not just optimize individual contact points. Offering proactive services and unified communication across channels will help in delivering a differentiated experience, thereby increasing customer loyalty and repeat sales. These days, customers expect 24*7 support from companies and that too anywhere and on any device.
According to a research, businesses that provide multi-channel support enjoy twice the more (9.7% vs. 3.9%) customer satisfaction year on year.
Certain technologies that companies are using to enable digital customer experience are Live Chat, Intelligent FAQs, Video Chat, Social CRM and Mobile. Voice is still utilized for the majority of enquiries, although customers may be routed their through IVR. Especially for resolving complaints and closing accounts, voice is still considered to be the best option by many.
Intelligent FAQs are generally used for basic information and service queries. They encourage self-service and also reduce the volume of contacts, thus driving efficiency. Video chat is still emerging and not being exploited by all but is slowly gaining popularity in leading companies as a communication channel. Social media is being widely adopted by many companies to interact with customers and handle complaints and feedbacks. As people have access to social media 24*7, this platform is best suitable for them to engage with brands.
Transition to these channels empowers faster resolution of customer problems, increased engagement opportunities, improved customer experience which lead to reduced operational cost, enhanced cross-sell and up-sell and greater customer loyalty and satisfaction. It also allows companies to better meet the changing needs of customers by giving them the authority to communicate on their own terms.
Companies are also looking forward to enhancing customer engagement by integrating human touch in digital experiences. By combining a right channel approach with proactive service, companies can increase conversion rates as well as sales revenues drastically.
However, there are certain things that companies need to consider before digitizing their contact centers. Let’s learn what they are:
Clearly Understand the Current State
Contact centers are data-driven entities of a company where each and every customer interaction is measured and monitored. Contact center managers have ready access to dashboards and reports. So, when assessing the need to transform to a digital contact center, it is crucial to know where you are starting from.
Measure and analyze the current volumes across all channels such as phone, email, chat and so on. Then assess the cost related with each channel. You also need to consider what are the general issues being catered by each channel. For example- through emails a company is getting more of billing-related issues and complaints are mostly communicated through phone calls. The better you understand the issue type mix of each communication medium, the better you can plan the transformation.
Unravel the Complexity
It is essential for organizations to have a decent knowledge and understanding of the complexities involved in transforming the contact centers. One change in the system can impact the functionalities of many other things. Your technology should be flexible enough to bear these changes. And if not, then be conscious of its impact at different points and prioritize your implementation process based on what’s most important to customers.
It goes without saying that meeting customer expectations should be the main focus of any contact center. They must find ways to simplify processes to enhance customer convenience. Therefore, contact centers must examine in detail “what is most important to the customer and how technology can aid in delivering it”.
For example- Is your effort of reducing hold time leading to an increase in dropped calls? Consider other options like offering them the facility to opt for call-back or ask them to drop an email to get their queries resolved faster. This will lower customer waiting time and also reduce the burden on contact center agents due to heavy volume of calls.
Review your Employees
Contact centers will have to review their employees to ensure that they are prepared for this new role. They have to be good communicators, listeners, and relationship-builders to sustain in this kind of environment. The need of the hour is to develop a multi-skilled team to provide enhanced customer experience. Agents should know how to support both voice and digital mediums. Providing your agents with multi-channel capabilities will give you flexibility when managing resources across all channels. It will prevent the agents from doing the same job on a daily basis, thus reducing monotony and churn rate. On the other hand, customers would be able to interact with the same agent across different channels to get their issues resolved, making them stay in their comfort zone.
As the needs of customers change, companies are gradually implementing solutions to deal with customers in their preferred communication channel. Providing FAQs online which people can consult for their routine queries can significantly reduce call traffic and save time of both customers and call center agents. Similarly, an option to chat with an agent while looking to purchase a product on the company’s website can immensely increase the probability of conversion.
However, there still exists a set of customers especially older generations for whom phone is the only convenient way to interact with a brand. It’s often much easier to pick up the phone and speak to someone than to track a company down on social media. Voice-based communication still plays a strong role and it might infuriate those customers who don’t like change and they come to know that their favourite channel (phone) is no longer available.