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Managing Customer Care in an Era of Digital Transformation

By Alpa Shah, Global VP of Digital Transformation, Frost & Sullivan

Alpa Shah, Global VP of Digital Transformation, Frost & Sullivan

Improving Customer Experience is a Top Priority

According to 74 percent of IT decision makers across major sectors and regions, customer experience management is one of the top three digital transformation investments today, and will continue to be over the next two years. The other top priorities are cyber security and IoT. As customer care departments embark on their digital transformation journey, there are 5 key critical philosophies to incorporate in their strategy:

•Embrace change

• Augment with technologies

•Happy agents = happy customers

•Build solutions based on customer experience

•Start small!

Embracing Change

Many companies deal with the issue of finding the right balance between proactively investing in technologies and reactively buying solutions. The major concern is around spending too much money on technologies that agents or customers are not ready for and will not use. The ability to embrace change is a critical success factor; however, keep in mind that it is important to take stock of your company’s channel strengths. Ensure that your strongest channels will not be negatively impacted by new investments or process changes. If you proactively look at your strengths and invest in areas that need to improve, rather than react to the fear of missing out on the latest technologies, you are likely to find the right balance and optimize your contact center operations.

Augmenting with Technologies

The ability for artificial intelligence to continually learn from new data and re-analyze outcomes is a crucial feature. This is what sets it apart from existing analytics solutions. The fact that AI can recognize patterns, compare and contrast information, and predict future outcomes is beneficial for companies that want to provide tailored customer service. Consumers and businesses have high expectations of the purchases they make—they want a customized experience.

Speech analytics can check against compliance, improve agent performance, and meet customer needs more quickly. Mining for the positive reviews in discussions helps companies share what “they’re doing right” throughout the organization.

Chat bots provide an effortless and augmented customer experience with much more advanced self-service. The solution can also help companies manage hyper-growth and increase sales opportunities.

If properly executed, these technologies can reduce customer effort and improve agent productivity. The key is to create and monitor thresholds that are feasible for the company and help meet its corporate goals.

Happy Agents = Happy Customers

Creating a happy environment for agents—a place where agents feel empowered, enthusiastic, and engaged—has a positive impact on customers. All three are important elements in sustaining an effective workforce for the long haul.

A digital transformation strategy must:

• have a shared vision to ensure that everyone has the same goals

• motivate employees to embrace new solutions

• be supported and managed to assure acceptance and usage

How can a contact center optimize automation, customer care, and employee happiness? Satisfying everyone is a challenging task.

Automation may be crucial for a company’s survival, but how much does your company want to contain in self-service using chat bots? We have all been stuck in IVR jail. Some fear that chatbots will be used in the same way. An algorithm that can read sentiments and forward to agents immediately when customers begin to show dissatisfaction can be a valuable feature. Providing a quick path to resolving a problem if AI goes awry is vital.

With all of this automation, the calls that do reach agents are likely to be more complex and interesting for agents to handle. At the same time, do agents want all the easy questions to be answered through automation so that they are only left with the difficult ones? Handling complex calls one after another can be exhausting and lead to agent unhappiness.

What about improving customer satisfaction? As customers become more demanding, combined with the myriad of ways they can reach your company, a host of ever-changing challenges emerge. Omnichannel solutions can help solve many customer interaction problems.

Build Solutions Based on Customer Experience

Buyers come from all walks of life. They expect customized customer care. Some people like automation – get in and get out of the contact center as quickly as possible. Other people are only comfortable speaking with a live person. In specific industries, like healthcare or insurance, videoconferencing is an effective means of communications.

Implementation depends on a variety of factors as well. Are your customers ready for change – will they be receptive to chatbots? Are your employees capable of handling multiple contacts at one time? Do you have the processes in place to handle a much larger volume of customers? Are you able to hire the talent needed to support new technologies? There are many questions that must be answered when making purchase decisions.

Reducing average call times is often a goal, but in reality, 57 percent of companies say they are increasing. This could be a win-win for all. Augment with technology, but allow for calls that reach agents to be used to satisfy customers to retain them; upsell and cross-sell with the customized data now available; and learn more about product improvements, customer behavior, and new trends.

Start Small!

How do you achieve the ROI needed to convince stakeholders that further investment in this technology is a must? Start with a small group, or one department. Select champions who have bought into the technology and will use it avidly.

Ensure that company leaders understand that failure is okay. Through trial and error, each company will find the right mix of technologies that supports their growth. Reduce the risk of failure by immersing yourself in critical thinking with others to avoid blind spots. Lastly, pilots should be part of the business plan.

Final Note

Keep in mind that having an environment where failing is okay is crucial when implementing a digital transformation strategy. Otherwise, your company risks losing customers and employees to a company that offers a better experience.

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