Covid-19 might have brought time to a halt but fast-forwarded digitalization of the world. With brick-and-mortar shops closing, businesses were forced to undergo an immediate digital transformation, which led to the rise of work from home and apps such as Zoom.
However, the rise in digitalization also means a rise in communication technology and channels. But to plan, it’s important to take note of the future trends in communication that will shape customer experience.
A Holistic Approach to Customer Communication
Digital transformation led to accelerated adoption of cloud technology. Businesses were forming teams and starting ad hoc initiatives to keep pace. However, this led to a gap – in strategy.
We adopted digital channels and communication technology, but without clear processes and customized solutions to meet customers’ needs. To provide a successful customer experience businesses need to adapt their processes to feed into the newly attained digital channels.
This is why it is imperative to look for solution partners and providers who focus on providing a holistic approach with professional services that help:
- Deliver an omnichannel channel experience
- Digitalize your processes and workforce
- Provide strategical support alongside communication solutions
Key takeaway: Digital transformation combined with a digital strategy ensures customer growth and success.
Conversational Chat Apps Are at the Heart of the Communication Ecosystem
Traditional channels have been replaced by digital channels – including the likes of Email and SMS. People have started to have conversations with businesses like they do with their friends and family – and this will lead to an evolution of OTT channels with a strong migration towards chat apps.
Google Business Messaging, Apple Business Chat, and WhatsApp will lead this revolution of rich conversations – leading to increased engagement.
Lockdowns and working from home have increased the usage of chat apps as more people turn to mobile communications. The future trends we’ll begin to see with these shifts are fewer app downloads and web surfing, and more chat app conversations.
What does that mean for businesses? It means everything from customer support, payments, browsing product catalogs, and more will begin to take place on chat apps.
In addition to the globally recognized chat apps, the local heroes such as Kakao Talk, Line, and the pioneer of chat ecosystem, WeChat, will be essential for local businesses or global companies targeting specific regions.
Key takeaway: Start building your chat app portfolio with local and global channels to deliver better CX throughout the customer journey.
Customer Data Platforms Are at the Center of a True Omnichannel Experience
Omnichannel means you can switch communication lanes, or optimize conversations, using multiple channels.
Let’s say you’re inquiring about a loan. Once you arrange the details with an agent, the information is sent to you via email and later, an automated flow of notifications is sent to your preferred chat app.
Or you’re calling a contact centre but the queue is long – you’re automatically transferred to a chat app for a quicker response. This mixing and blending of using the right channel and the optimal time is what omnichannel is.
But for a true omnichannel experience, personalization is imperative – and that’s where customer data platforms come in. So, not only are you personalizing the channel but the content and time as well.
Key takeaway: Businesses must embrace a holistic approach for success by combining the power of the right channel mix, CX solutions, and customer data platform.
SaaS + CPaaS Are the New CX Stack
The growth of chat apps coupled with SMS, Email, and Voice has seen an upward trend in businesses opting for CPaaS partners. In addition to this, there are a few strategies being adopted:
- Having their own IT systems and integrating channels into those existing systems.
- Looking for platforms that have the communication solution and channel in one place.
The second option is the stronger one. Sometimes, for a particular use case, just having a channel is not enough.
For example, you need a contact centre to offer agent support, marketing automation or an engagement hub to automate communication, a chatbot building platform for always-on customer service, and a customer data platform for personalization.
In a nutshell – channels are fuelling new use cases, but to empower the channels you need additional tools.
Key takeaway: The best of both worlds, SaaS and CPaaS, is essential for business success. Go with a bottom-up approach of laying an omnichannel foundation followed by CX solutions.
Channel Transformation of the Contact Centre
We’ve already seen the transformation of a classic call centre into a digital one, and the most important reason is people are looking for support via social media, chat apps, and email, more than voice. With social media especially, it is not just customer support, but providing service to a community.
Voice will gradually move to video in the future, and traditional IVR will make way for intuitive voice bots. And all the channels will be available on a single platform, with a single view for agents.
Key takeaway: Classic call centres will expand with digital channels, and while voice will still be an integral part – it will transform from IVR to voice bots.
AI Flavoured Support
Chatbots and voice bots will take over simple IVR. In the bot space, you currently have:
- Keyword-based chatbots and IVR
- AI chatbots and voice bots
We will see the keyword-based chatbots and IVRs be replaced by the more intuitive AI-driven chatbots and voice bots.
With the two main applications will be:
- a virtual assistant helping for sales and marketing purposes
- contact centre bots that try to solve problems or prepare the groundwork for the agent to provide a quicker resolution
But a chatbot or voice bot must be explicitly designed to help, and not act as a human agent. And to switch to an agent seamlessly, it must be able to have sentiment analysis.
If a customer sounds upset or if it feels that a customer is going around in circles without a resolution – they must be transferred immediately. AI empowers chatbots and voice bots to track the sentiment and behaviour of customers.
In addition to automating support, agents can be further helped with intelligent routing based on historic conversations and content of the existing ones, to be routed to the most appropriate agent.
AI can further be used to leverage customer data based on event – to personalize messaging, do intelligent segmentation, and choose the right channel.
Key takeaway: There are three main areas where AI will play a major role: first is related to personalization, segmentation, and profiling of customers; second is NLP chatbots and voice bots; third is intelligent routing, agent profiling, and automatic conversations.
Easy to Integrate and Deploy Communication Solutions
Having a single platform to handle communications and channels is important, but it should also be easy to mix and match.
For example: at Infobip, a client can pick and choose channels to lay their communication foundation but, based on their needs, can add a contact centre solution on top of it or a marketing automation tool within their existing infrastructure.
It’s important to partner with the right SaaS and CPaaS provider whose solutions are as simple as plug and play.
Key takeaway: Partner with a single platform that allows you to easily integrate existing and third-party solutions to your CX stack.