How brands can empower customers, protect contact centres and pass the pandemic stress test
We’re in the age of the customer.
COVID-19 dramatically altered expectations around customer experiences (CX) and companies must now innovate, evolve and compete to provide exceptional CX if they want to stay relevant in the eyes of their customers.
Often, the contact centre is the heart and soul of delivering that experience, and as a result, it’s going to look and feel very different in the months and years to come.
What’s driving the changes, and some tips on how brands can empower customers in this new era is outlined below.
The future of customer engagement is digital
Humans rarely communicate via a single channel any more.
What’s more, a growing percentage of generation iGen, the first generation to spend their adolescence in the age of the smartphone, makes up today’s customer base.
This shift towards omnichannel communication will only gather momentum as more iGens – and subsequently Gen Alpha, those born after 2013 – come of age.
As a result, how, where and when a customer interacts with a brand is now determined by the customer.
SAS reports that by 2030, 67% of engagement between consumers and brands will be on digital devices.
Businesses that can service this demand are going to be way ahead of the competition.
To better meet these expectations, organisations are already incorporating a range of social media platforms and technology tools, such as Facebook, Instant Messenger and Zoom, into their contact centre capabilities.
Contact centres of the future will need to be proficient in omnichannel communications that seamlessly deliver positive CX through the entire customer journey.
Adopting a data science mindset
The growth of digital customer engagement capabilities yields a wealth of data that will become mission-critical to the future of business.
But collecting data is only the tip of the iceberg.
If brands want to transform CX, they must truly understand their customers, and this is where data plays a key role.
Organisations that succeed at the customer experience game will adopt a data science mindset.
Investing in products, platforms and infrastructure that allow them to process massive amounts of data and turn it into action.
Solving problems before customers know about them
Companies that can quickly take a data point and extract a meaningful action will be able to solve problems before customers even know about them.
Through this rich intel, brands can be proactive, predictive and prepared.
They can transform the contact centre from a reactive function to one that proactively reaches out to help.
By removing the responsibility from the customer, and adding a layer of automated or human outreach, brands can demonstrate how much they value their customers.
As the role of CX continues to grow and evolve, much higher volumes of interactions will take place across increasingly dispersed channels.
This makes quality assurance more complex and more vital than ever, creating the need for monitoring and testing to be embedded into the day-to-day running of a contact centre.
Embracing an automated way of life
Automation has already emerged across many contact centres, enabling customers to efficiently self-serve and self-inform.
While automation plays a significant role in solving low complexity problems and simple interactions, the reality is that we haven’t even started to scratch the surface of its capabilities.
Currently, machines cannot perform tasks such as asking follow-on questions, but once trained, they will be able to interpret and understand customers’ intentions, which holds the potential to change the CX game.
However, amongst such a digitally focused and automated way of life, the human element will continue to play an important role in terms of empathy and critical thinking.
As such, it is essential that contact centres don’t completely deviate away from delivering high-value, sensory-led customer experience that only humans can provide.
The power of the human touch
Assisted by an ever-increasing maturity of automation, data science and Artificial Intelligence (AI), companies will seek to invest in upskilling their agents, placing them in more specialised roles.
Agents will move away from transactional tasks, instead focusing on complex, unstructured customer queries and challenges.
Organisations will provide training in emotional intelligence (EQ) so agents can better understand and manage the emotions and feelings of their customers.
Developing these softer skills will empower agents to effectively resolve customer interactions, allowing them to become a brand hero to their customers.
Through the catalyst of COVID-19, customer experience has taken on a whole new level of importance.
While voice may still be king today, digital channels are hot on its heels.
This data-driven revolution in human behaviour has the power to turn today’s CX into tomorrow’s CXP: Customer eXperience Personalisation.
Contact centres of the future will deliver consumer-designed experience, while those providing the generic experience suited for everyone will quickly be suited for no one.