The recent pandemic fundamentally and permanently altered consumer behavior and expectations. People who were locked down at home and reluctant to potentially expose themselves to the COVID-19 virus found alternatives and safer ways to transact with businesses. Digital technology enabled consumers to get what they needed from the comfort and safety of home.
On the other end of these transactions were the businesses and government entities that suddenly found themselves thrust into unplanned customer experience transformations. Those who were nimble enough responded to consumer demands by offering services like curbside pick-up, video medical consultations, and AI-powered customer self-service. Many of these organizations also accelerated their digital transformations to better serve their customers and increase business resilience.
Contact centers are central to digital transformation strategies. The pandemic highlighted the importance of call centers, as they became the main touchpoint customers had with organizations. Digital capabilities, many of them infused with artificial intelligence, have made contact centers the hub of customer experiences. No longer just another pit stop along the customer journey, contact centers are the front door to organizations, welcoming customers and connecting them to the expertise and services they need.
Enterprise CX transformations are typically complex, multi-year undertakings that touch almost every business unit inside of a company. It can take a while to implement and see the full benefits. But there are some quick wins contact centers can claim by applying easy-to-implement solutions that can yield tangible benefits. Realizing visible results in the short term can provide the momentum needed to be successful with the larger scope of digital transformation.
This article will provide two quick win ideas to fuel your digital transformation strategy.
What does a digitally transformed call center look like?
Modern call center design begins with innovative technology, like digital channels and collaboration tools, that change and improve the way consumers engage with brands, ultimately leading to better CX. These advanced technologies enable omnichannel experiences, proactive customer outreach, highly effective self-service, and more. Digitally transformed experiences drive meaningful business results such as higher revenue, lower costs, and improved customer satisfaction and advocacy.
Figure 1 Source: Metrigy Webinar: 3 Critical customer service changes in 2021-2022 (2021)
Imagine touring a completely modernized contact center. You would see agents collaborating with AI tools that advise on the next-best steps, automatically retrieve relevant information, and coach agents on their soft skills based on real-time customer sentiment analysis, like in this video example:
In a modern contact center, you would also witness bots handling repetitive tasks, like activating new credit cards and documenting interactions, relieving agents of administrative burden, and allowing them to focus on delivering exceptional CX. Agents would be receiving seamless hand-offs from other channels with complete customer context, including what customers said during chat sessions, and what online knowledge articles they viewed.
The modern contact center is also less populated with onsite employees because a good portion of its agents work remotely, supported by flexible, cloud call center solutions. And unnecessary contacts have been minimized because bots help automate proactive outbound customer communications. You would also see a reduction in simpler transactions because more customers are self-serving with the help of virtual assistants and conversational IVRs.
Is customer experience transformation worth the effort?
If this modern call center design sounds remarkable and transformative—it is. And if it sounds like a substantial undertaking—it is. Implementing a digital transformation strategy is a significant investment of time and resources, and it has long tentacles that stretch throughout the organization. And a digitally-driven CX transformation isn't just an isolated technology project; it relies on the process, cultural, and employee evolutions to be successful.
Now that we've established that CX transformation is a lot of work, is it worth it? Let's see what your customers say.
When we surveyed consumers for our 2020 CX benchmark study, an overwhelming majority of them expressed an expectation of omnichannel customer service experiences. In fact, 96% of consumers expect businesses to make it easy for them to switch channels by not requiring them to repeat information, and 94% want seamless access to a customer service agent even if they use self-service.1
Figure 2 Source: NICE CXone CX Transformation Benchmark, Consumer Wave (2020)
Yet two-thirds of consumers say businesses do a poor job at enabling them to seamlessly switch channels,2 and only 27% of businesses rate themselves as "excellent" at delivering on these omnichannel expectations3—a gap that could be closed by a CX transformation initiative.
What else do people want from customer service experiences? ContactBabel found that first contact resolution is their top priority, followed by factors such as low queue times, friendly agents, and channel choice.6
Figure 3 Source: Contact Babel, State of Contact Center Transformation in the New Digital-First World (2021)
But these priorities experienced a sizable shift last year, with factors like "Issue handled by one employee" and "Short call/web chat times" gaining ground.7
Figure 4 Source: Contact Babel, State of Contact Center Transformation in the New Digital-First World (2021)
Contact centers have typically squeezed what they can out of handle times using traditional methods, and many aren't equipped to route customers to the same agent that has been helping them handle an ongoing issue. Therefore, a tech-driven CX transformation is likely in order to meet these shifting customer priorities.
If these customer expectations and perceptions aren't enough to justify a substantial customer experience transformation, let's take a quick look at what many of your competitors are doing.
Research firm Metrigy found that 45% of businesses have either completed a CX transformation initiative or have one underway and an additional 32% have one planned to begin in 2022.8 In other words, 77% of surveyed businesses view customer experience transformation as a priority worthy of investment.
Figure 5 Metrigy Webinar: 3 Critical customer service changes in 2021-2022 (2021)
When we surveyed contact center decision-makers, we discovered what these investments mean for customer service operations. As part of their digital transformation strategies, 58% of businesses plan to invest in their website in the coming year, 43% will invest in channels, 42% will enhance their contact center technology, and 35% will improve their omnichannel capabilities.**
Figure 6 Source: NICE: CXone CX Transformation Benchmark, Business Wave (2020)
If you follow the money, it's clear that businesses are prioritizing improving the customer experience. CX transformation has become both a consumer-driven and a competitive imperative.
Two quick wins to transform CX
If you're feeling some urgency to chalk up some wins, the good news is that you don't have to wait for the completion of the big, multi-year project to experience success. Here are three examples of solutions you can implement for meaningful, near-term results.
1. Self-service chatbots
Although true digital-first omnichannel is the ultimate goal, chatbots are a great stepping stone. There are many options for chatbots, ranging from simple, rule-based bots to AI-powered bots that get smarter with use and use natural language processing (NLP) to naturally converse with humans. This wide variety of capabilities enables businesses to choose the right solutions for their customers and business models.
They’re relatively easy to define and deploy and act as a natural extension of how customers typically interact with an IVR in a voice-centric environment. It’s a great natural step to digital.
A well-designed and managed chatbot can provide many benefits. Chatbots can provide customers with 24/7 assistance and scale easily; one chatbot can handle hundreds or even thousands of simultaneous interactions. This means contact centers can easily increase capacity and customers don't have to wait in potentially long phone queues for assistance. Organizations are implementing chatbots to provide customers with quicker resolutions, increase revenue by recommending products, and reduce agent workload.9
Figure 7 Source: Metrigy Webinar: 3 Critical customer service changes in 2021-2022 (2021)
Metrigy's research found that two-thirds of companies will have added AI-enabled self-service by the end of 2021.10 Perhaps this is because these businesses recognize that chatbots can be a quick CX win. Organizations that use flexible, industry-leading contact center software will find that implementing chatbots can be relatively simple and they come with out-of-the-box features that facilitate effortless integrations and seamless escalations to agent assistance. And a great thing about chatbots is that you can implement them with a limited scope and expand their responsibilities after you gain some lessons learned and quick wins.
To learn more about chatbot best practices and what the most fitting initial deployment might be for you, check out this Chatbot Starter’s Guide.
2. Add unified digital channels
Although voice still reigns supreme as the preferential channel for most generations, it’s declining in preference, especially for younger generations who prefer chat and email.11 Digital channels—like chat, email, SMS, messaging, and social media—aren’t the future, they’re the present. But, for many contact center leaders with legacy technology incapable of supporting an effortless, seamless omnichannel experience, adding digital channels is daunting.
One quick solution to overcoming this hurdle is by adding a digital suite that runs concurrently with your legacy voice platform. For example, with NICE CXone you can choose from more than 30 digital channels ranging from Apple Business Chat to WhatsApp and the platform comes with all the products you need to provide an excellent customer experience across digital channels, from digital monitoring and screen recording to workforce and quality management.
This approach will pave the way to adding cloud voice solutions and to a more seamless, eventual transition to a unified cloud contact center solution supported by an asynchronous multi-channel workforce.
Adding or migrating to a unified, cloud-based digital channel platform can be a quick way to implement new channels and streamline the agent side of interactions. Unified digital channel platforms are perfect for your modern call center design. Because it's all one platform, contact centers can holistically route, handle, administer and manage interactions from multiple digital channels such as email, chat, social messaging, and SMS.
Why is a unified digital channel platform a quick win? If you select the right solution, you don't need to replace your existing voice platform. The unified digital platform will work side-by-side with your voice technology. Additionally, with industry-leading cloud software, implementation can take days rather than the weeks or months typical of premise-based implementations. And with CXone, one agent seat includes all digital channels, which means you can turn on additional channels without going through the often lengthy process of getting additional funding approved.
Implementing a unified digital platform can enable you to quickly provide customers with the seamless digital experiences they expect while also providing operational benefits through streamlined processes.
When your contact center has some visible quick wins, it can propel the rest of your organization's customer experience transformation initiative to a successful outcome.
For more information about modern call center design, download "The state of contact center transformation in the new digital world." It includes insightful information that can inform your digital transformation strategy. Or, if you’re ready to transform your customer experience and build relationships that last, speak to one of our digital experts to help get you started.
6 ContactBabel: State of Contact Center Transformation in a New Digital World (2021)
7 ContactBabel: State of Contact Center Transformation in a New Digital World (2021)