Type to SearchView Tags

Fluid CX: Driving customer engagement in the Experience Economy
Yatindra Mahajan Practice Head – Networks and Contact Center Services | July 27, 2020
153 Views

Customer Experience (CX) is the King

Imagine entering a room full of strangers intending to interact with them. What if you are coming to buy, return, complain, or ask for help? What if one of the strangers turns out to know you well, is super quick with responses and addresses all your queries without a hitch. The experience is bound to be indelible – one that will have a lasting impression long after the interaction is over.

The famous poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Nowhere is this more applicable today than in contact centers where customers expect hyper-personalized services and experiences that are meaningful. Increased competition and changing customer behaviors are constantly creating new ground rules for businesses. These factors have bought aspects like customer engagement and loyalty at the center stage as new currencies that are poised to drive future growth for organizations across industries.

Driving customer engagement in the Experience Economy with Fluid CX

The Need for Infusing CX Design into Contact Center Strategy

According to research, 86% of customers are ready to pay more for a better experience. Furthermore, companies that earn USD 1 billion annually can expect to earn on an average, an additional USD 700 million within 3 years of investing in customer experience. That is a whopping 70% increase in revenue within a span of 36 months.

Clearly, CX is the king and it has long moved on from being a differentiator to a necessity for all organizations today. The importance of building customer enagagement becomes even more apparent in the context of contact centers because a loyal customer base can provide a company with multiple opportunities to cross-sell and up-sell new product and service lines without adding to existing costs.

Also, from a strategic standpoint, ensuring top-notch contact center service and experience for an existing customer base makes more business sense, considering the preferences of millennials who are currently dominating consumer demographics while pushing the limits of customer service. Research reveals that customers today expect contact center agents to know their service history. 86% customers believe that it is one of the most important pieces of their interaction with agents. After all, when agents know the consumer history, customers are seldom required to give a run-down of their past interactions.

Even business buyers expect similar experiences from contact centers. While reaching out to contact center agents, 83% of business buyers state that it is extremely critical to be routed to an agent who is proficient and knowledgeable about the issue. These numbers serve as a testament to the fact that consumers are increasingly expecting a frictionless omnichannel experience from service providers. To meet their expectations, companies must align robust and seamless CX design that can help customers smoothly navigate the challenges.

Toward the Future of Contact Center Operations – Revisiting the Dynamics Involved 

The global pandemic has brought to fore challenges on multiple fronts. Call volumes have gone up drastically, agents are working from home and more importantly business models have been disrupted. The “shop window” – be it on the web, social media or a customer calling in, is now extremely critical in the economic recovery. Enterprises must cash in on this window of opportunity despite cost-cutting being an enterprise imperative now.

However, it is also important to consider that historically contact centers have always been considered as cost centers. Any increase in contact center related costs has attracted resistance from the decision makers and questions on ROI have been recurrent. However, today, companies must realize that unlike any other investment, contact center investments will pay-off returns and generate revenue much earlier in the investment-to-ROI cycle, if a proper strategy is implemented.

A well-thought out contact center transformation strategy can be creative with enough room for innovation. After all, responding to budget cuts does not mean doing less but doing things differently. The following are some of the things that you must do to chart out a future-proof contact center strategy for your company:

Customers want self-service but they do not want to speak with machines. The need for human touch is important and AI can help companies make a difference. Advanced conversational AI applications can perform customer sentiment analysis in real-time and accurately interpret customer intent. Such contextual intelligence can be leveraged to inform live agents so that they can have more productive discussions with customers while addressing concerns. In fact, the technology can also help empower self-service tools like IVR to respond to customers in a more humane way.

AI applications driven by natural language processing (NLP) and sentiment analytics can also help companies develop “conversational assistants” to help customers access the information they are seeking. By leveraging these technologies to glean the intent or context of a customer’s message or text, the assistant can provide an immediate human-like response be it for generating a service ticket, proposing a call back from the live agent or instantly route the customer to a chat window for resolution.

  • Do More with Conversational AI

    Customers want self-service but they do not want to speak with machines. The need for human touch is important and AI can help companies make a difference. Advanced conversational AI applications can perform customer sentiment analysis in real-time and accurately interpret customer intent. Such contextual intelligence can be leveraged to inform live agents so that they can have more productive discussions with customers while addressing concerns. In fact, the technology can also help empower self-service tools like IVR to respond to customers in a more humane way.

    AI applications driven by natural language processing (NLP) and sentiment analytics can also help companies develop “conversational assistants” to help customers access the information they are seeking. By leveraging these technologies to glean the intent or context of a customer’s message or text, the assistant can provide an immediate human-like response be it for generating a service ticket, proposing a call back from the live agent or instantly route the customer to a chat window for resolution.

  • Predict Customer Sentiment and Behavior  

    Most organizations are aware of the impact of customer analytics solutions but very few are harnessing its real value. By cashing in on data and analytics, companies can deep dive into interactions and extract actionable insights on customer sentiments that cannot be recorded through conventional feedback survey.

    Social media can be an ideal place for contact centers to mine information related to customer sentiment, habits, and preferences. For instance, if a business competitor experiences an outage, analytics can quickly monitor social media channels to identify negative customer sentiments about that competitor across channels. Agents can then use these leads to reach out customers who are unhappy with the service. At the end of the day, every social media user is a potential customer and if there is an agent who steps in with a resolution then there is a high chance that a customer can make a switch. In fact, according to research, 51% of customers will never return to a company again after just one poor service experience. That is 51% potential customers who will switch to a different brand or company.

  • Shift to Cloud Contact Centers

    Almost 61% of contact centers plan to shift their operations to the cloud. Cloud contact center solutions can help companies centralize customer communications across multiple channels including chat, voice, CRM applications or social media. Shifting contact center operations to cloud allows businesses to reap long-term benefits in the form of flexibility, better cost structures and robust compliance. Of course, the cloud journey can be complete or partial. Depending on the requirement, a company can move to cloud in entirety or have a hybrid set up. For example, use cloud economics to scale the IVR and the bots but retain other pieces on-prem.

  • Focus on Agent Productivity

    Not every call flow can be driven by a bot. You need agents with specialized knowledge who can be empathetic in a problem call. By chasing technology rather than the outcome and implementing bots across critical customer engagement channels, companies can end up with poor customer experience. Instead of creating a contact center strategy that is solely reliant on technology, companies must strike the right balance between agent and their digital counterparts.

    Agents who have access to relevant data and tools can move more swiftly and provide personalized resolutions which is extremely important for certain problem calls. On the other hand, providing agents the right tools can ultimately make them happy and make their job a lot easier.

Rounding Up

Every business is different and so are the expectations of every customer. Hence, there is no “one size fits all approach” when it comes to revisiting contact center strategy. To create the right contact center solution, businesses must constantly adapt by focusing on the programmability of solutions implemented, seamless omnichannel experience, contextual intelligence, and scalability.

As Joseph Pine and James Gilmore postulated in a Harvard Business Review article, we are in the “Experience Economy”. At HCL, we are helping our customers redefine CX with skills, innovation, and partnerships. In the coming weeks, we will be announcing a strategic partnership with a leader in the Contact Center solutions domain to bring more value to our customers’ “shop windows”.