Over the past 18 months, the message for businesses has been clear; COVID-19 has changed how we interact indefinitely. Even as we navigate the end of restrictions, digital channels and flexible working are here to stay, having a knock-on effect on customer experience.
It’s never been more important or more difficult. Customer demand has surged, workloads remain high and customer preferences seem to change with the wind.
In tandem, contact centres have been forced to change how they operate, demonstrating remarkable adaptability and agility.
We saw mass migration of employees from offices to home, use of video as a primary channel of communication, adoption of a digital-first mindset, a growing consumer preference for self-service, and transition of contact centre technology to the cloud. A roadmap for the future of contact centres has emerged.
A Year Like No Other
In a short space of time, agents have had to move from answering more standard customer phone calls or emails to a plethora of different customer contact channels, such as web calls, live chat and video chat.
This is supported by our research, which found that 35% of customers are happier to engage with brands on digital channels since the pandemic hit. Yet with this increase in digital adoption, there is no clear channel preference – 52% of people claim they prefer to use multiple channels.
We’re amid one of the biggest technology revolutions of our generation, which is why contact centres have had to think about technology through the eyes of their customer’s customers to reduce inefficiencies, eliminate pain points and increase the value of every interaction no matter what channel it’s on.
A New Era of Customer
Today’s consumer expects to be able to contact a business at any time, from anywhere, and on any platform – and it’s given rise to new demands.
Our research found over a third (33%) of British people have higher expectations for customer service since the first lockdown and 32% have said that they will not spend with a business that provides poor service again.
Their biggest frustrations included waiting to speak with customer services (35%), limited ways and times to contact a company (31%) and repeating details multiple times to an agent (20%). Contact centres need to build a cohesive, consistent approach that reaches all audiences across a variety of channels and caters for consumers’ changing preferences and modes of consumption.
Reinventing Your Contact Centre Infrastructure
There’s no denying that the companies that have had the easiest time with the digital transition were those that had migrated to contact-centre-as-a-service (CCaaS) solutions – specifically the cloud. There are several reasons why.
The migration of workers to home offices has complicated the scheduling challenge and created new issues for contact centre management. For agents working at home, the pandemic has also shifted the work/life balance in unexpected ways.
Through a cloud contact centre, agents can continue to provide superior customer service from the comfort of their homes. This workforce optimisation means agents will stay connected, no matter where or when they log on, 24/7.
Delivering an exceptional customer experience starts with the way your brand interacts with customers.
Being available on your customers’ favourite channel means you will deliver value on the channel they already love and trust.
This results in higher customer engagement, increased loyalty, and long-term customer relationships. This means embracing conversational channels, such as WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger, and Live Chat, as well as customer-initiated channels like Google Business Messaging.
Finally, the use of Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVA) is one of many automation solutions helping contact centres improve the customer experience and respond to employee needs. Frequently asked questions represent a large portion of customer enquiries, even more so during the pandemic as people demand accurate information quickly.
Intelligent chatbots eliminate the more repetitive and basic tasks for agents, increasing the speed and accuracy of handling transactions; this is a win-win for organisations that want to realise cost savings in front- and back-office departments while improving service quality.
Empowering Human Agents
In times of uncertainty, the sound of a friendly voice can be the difference between a good and bad customer experience. Having CCaaS solutions that cue human agents to step in at the right time is essential, allowing them to solve more high value, complex issues beyond FAQs and treat each customer as the individual they are.
It also allows agents to focus on multiple digital channels at one time, ensuring they have the tools to do what they do best, delivering personalised responses, answering queries faster and increasing customer satisfaction.
What’s more, by shifting agents’ responsibilities to more challenging and rewarding tasks, this can open new and upgraded career opportunities.
The contact centre that champions digital technology to deliver an outstanding customer experience is rapidly gaining market share at the expense of less sophisticated peers.
Enabling personalised, proactive, and efficient interactions has never been more important, which is why businesses and Business Process Outsourcing companies must consider how their contact centre infrastructure can work harder as we enter a new roadmap for customer service.
Thanks to Eric Leboeuf at Infobip for this article.