Time is our most valuable currency. Humans are busy - so busy the slightest deviation in a planned daily schedule can cause a panic attack.
When a customer experiences an issue, their day is disrupted. Effortless resolution becomes a top priority to get their day back on track to accomplish their priorities.
Contact centers represent the "life line" to issue resolution. A business's ability to offer customers a low effort, high return interaction drives constant evolution in today's contact center technology. In a 24/7/365 world, contact centers never rest.
Here are four themes we see as critical to success for contact centers in 2018:
1. Care will be everywhere
Providing care to customers isn't always confined to a physical contact center. Large enterprises, small, midsize companies, and teams within larger organizations, all provide care. And the care can be for internal or external "customers." The solution is flexible, informal care available for all customers provided with ease and quality. Data availability across all contact channels should be consistent and reliable to give all caregivers a full, single view of the customer. Preparing customer care professionals for the transformation to information analysts will be critical; roles in the contact center will change. Training and development will remain a top priority for care professionals.
2. Clouds are forming
Contact centers are moving to the cloud at an ever-increasing pace to enhance versatility and providing a universal call center solution that unites multiple care locations and work from home agents. In the hosted environment, it doesn't matter where the agents are located, whether they be in a brick and mortar call center or working from home. Cloud platforms are connectivity-agnostic, so the agents can be connected wherever an internet connection is available. It's also nice to get the advantage of regular functionality upgrades as new features are added.
3. Rise of the machines
Care is evolving from phone first to self-help first where more often customers surf the web for answers before dialing a contact center. Supporting the shift will put increased emphasis on artificial intelligence (AI). AI can drive automated care via chatbots and the like. The interactions can be surprisingly natural. Machine learning technology enables smarter interactions by allowing companies to drive customer intimacy to the next level. For instance, companies are starting to use machine learning to understand the next best action (NBA) to take with a customer. Data-driven businesses that use machine learning to serve experiences that are more relevant for their customers are better positioned to take share away from their competitors. Machine learning is an effective way to process complex data and surface insights that matter.
4. Getting to the heart of the matter
Knowing the whole story about a customer interaction leads to an irritant-free interaction. Fantastic customer care demands that we know who customers are and why they've contacted us. Customers interact with businesses over time and across different channels. The customer views this as a single, connected journey and a company as a single entity. But the business typically sees these interactions as isolated, disconnected events. Is it any wonder customers are frustrated? Customers want a personalized experience, one that doesn't make them start from the beginning in every channel.
Near Term Focus
In the near term, contact centers should focus on creating an irritant-free personalized experience that does not make customers start from the beginning in every channel they choose. Develop and invest in all channels while making them as effortless as possible for customers to use as they evolve.