We are all customers, and as customers we often find our relationship with contact centres is ‘complicated’, frustrating, and sometimes just hard work.
Most of us now do basic transactions online, like checking bank balances, logging a fault or seeing if a payment has gone out. But when we have a complex need or problem we can’t fix online, we often need to call the contact centre. The hope is that talking to a person should be the easiest solution, but the fear is it doesn’t always work that way. That ‘quick call’ can be long, painful, and far from what we expect from the brand. In fact, the higher the brand, the higher the customer expectation.
When I call a customer support agent, I want the agent to have the time, expertise, tools, authority and empathy to give me the outcome I want, preferably on one call, and to make me feel valued as a customer. I don’t want to be held in a queue, connected to someone who doesn’t understand my problem, who tells me someone will call me, or recites the information I’ve just read on the website.
I’m sure managers, supervisors and agents want the same thing. No-one wants to do a bad job, but sometimes other factors prevent agents from being as helpful as they would like. Where is it going wrong?
Empower Your Organization Now for Tomorrow’s Challenges and Opportunities
Excellent contact centre service creates a competitive edge. Consider how First Direct disrupted the market years back by putting their 24/7 contact centre at the core of their proposition. Now, we have technology that will change how we ‘listen’ to our customers. This will become the new standard.
The tricky bit is delivering it cost-effectively, with increasingly knowledgeable and demanding customers giving agents increasingly complex, wide-ranging requirements.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, the pressure on contact centres has increased. People need to talk, but social restrictions and sickness constrain resourcing, and businesses may have to steer all but vulnerable customers online, with unpredictable effects on brand and customer loyalty.
The current pandemic should help us focus on making our businesses fit for whatever the new normal will be, and ready to face the next big opportunities.
Contact centres have a great opportunity to use proven technology to deliver step improvements in effectiveness, to exploit untapped value in the voice of the customer and make themselves more robust for the next set of challenges. Until now, most contact centre technology has been about reducing agents’ workload; managing call flows, moving transactional stuff online and so on.
Today, speech analysis, artificial intelligence and analytics give us a rich set of ready-made capabilities, to enhance the call experience and provide actionable customer insights. Technology isn’t just automating what the agent does, it’s empowering them, maximizing the value of each call, amplifying the voice of the customer so we’re sure it’s heard.
What’s Stopping Voice Technology Adoption in the Contact Centre
In many contact centres, there is still distrust of voice recognition and analysis technology at a basic level. It’s true that some early implementations ranged from the embarrassing to the hilarious; not great qualities for building brand value. Your new high-end car didn’t feel so high-end when you asked it to play Radio 2 and it switched on the wipers instead.
But today, we need only think of Alexa and Siri to see how this technology has advanced. The machine is fed more and more information by the minute.
Then there are concerns about cost versus measurable value. Elastic computing capacity from cloud providers like Amazon, Google and Microsoft offer low-cost, high-speed analysis of huge and complex data sets, providing actionable insights to improve call performance. With strong analytics and AI capabilities, the whole becomes a powerful tool set for placing the voice of the customer at the heart of the business.
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