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Gone are the days when the contact centre was a hub of fixed phone lines that served the sole purpose of dealing with customer complaints and questions. With the number of digital channels now available, coupled with changing customer behaviour when it comes to personalised experiences, integrating digital technology into the contact centre is essential.
From improving customer satisfaction, to providing access to multi-channel communication and using data to uncover customer insights or improve operational efficiency, there is no part of the modern contact centre where digital technologies can’t be used. Making the switch to digital contact centre solutions can seem like a huge challenge – where do you start?
We’ve helped hundreds of contact centre customers go through their own digital transformation, so we’re going to show you how digital technology can benefit contact centre operations.
Ready? Let’s go
The modern contact centre has moved on from telephone-based communication. Even having multiple digital channels is no guarantee of providing a great service across the entire customer journey. Contact centres today need to adopt an omnichannel approach to customer interactions, unifying voice, text, video, live messaging and chat communications within one platform. This omnichannel approach, along with using smart technology and data to inform how a contact operates, is key in creating a joined up customer experience that deals with enquiries effectively and efficiently. For example, using customer journey mapping, you can better understand the experience customers have across your business through using data to create a more proactive customer service, instead of reacting to issues or queries customers may have.
Ultimately, it comes down to improving the customer experience. Rather than a contact centre being a responsive, phone-based department, you can build a proactive, digitally-focused service. Instead of limiting customer contact channels to the phone, you can build on digital technologies like video, messaging and live chat which provide customers with more choice over how they engage with your business.
Coupling this with data and customer insights, you can get a better picture of what customers think about your service and use this information to plug gaps in your service and resolve problems before they even happen. These are the main reasons a digital transformation strategy is needed in contact centres:
Whether it’s the use of a self-service portal, or using live chat directly on a website, customers’ expectations are far more demanding when it comes to service. By building an omnichannel contact centre you’ll be better placed to meet (and exceed) these expectations.
Understanding customer interactions is a big part of improving your service. However, when your contact channels are separate, there’s no way to reliably collect all the data you need to make changes. Your digital transformation should put data collection at the heart of your omnichannel contact centre, allowing you to collect data from every channel across the customer journey. Understanding the data at each stage of your customer’s experience, and using real-time analytics to find trends can help you to more easily adapt your customer service.
As we’ve said, this is the end goal of any digital transformation initiatives in a call centre (or any business for that matter). Ultimately any technology you introduce should reduce the number of frustrated customers you have to deal with. By creating a more proactive customer service function you can increase customer retention by getting ahead of problems and fixing gaps in your service before they ever cause an issue.
Any digital transformation project in a contact centre should be focused around three elements:
An important aspect of what your digital transformation project should achieve for your team is removing repetitive tasks and automating processes that are being completed manually. Tasks like call routing and call scripting can be automated using smart technology and free your agents up to focus on more complex issues. You should also look at how new digital technology can be used to unify applications. This will not only help with cost reduction on redundant platforms but also streamline the customer journey.
For customers, your digital transformation should focus on:
Here, you should look at your legacy infrastructure, identify any siloed technology platforms and examine outdated processes that could be improved, removed, or replaced by new technology.For most contact centres this means moving towards a cloud-based infrastructure that allows customer service agents to deal with enquiries from anywhere, across a range of devices. It also provides the opportunity to make use of smart technology to automate processes, helping to reduce costs and – ultimately – driving revenue growth.
Built into your digital transformation should be data analytics that allow you to generate actionable insights from how customers interact with your business.Used properly, this data can provide valuable intelligence on everything from the conversion rates of your online content, to the level of customer satisfaction based on real customer data. You can find how we used this focus on technology infrastructure to help General Traffic improve their customer service and communication in our case study – read here.
Despite what you might think, digital transformation is just about ‘going digital’. It’s about rethinking the role of the contact centre from the ground up and figuring out what role technology will play in that digital transformation. From our experience, these are the key things you should be thinking about when it comes to any digital transformation process.
Is it a last resort when customers have a problem, or is it going to be proactive and solve problems? While many contact centres are used as a last resort for customer complaints, they’re actually a hive of valuable information about the customer experience and can be used to create a proactive department. Whether it’s using data to preempt problems to get out in front, or reengaging with customers who have gone quiet, the potential for your digitally-focused contact centre is significant.
Customers want different communication channels based on the problem/ enquiry they have. Using the data you have, you can select the best channels for your business based on what your customers actually use.
This is where many companies go wrong with their digital transformation. They get so caught up in the new trends, they don’t think about what they don’t need to change. For example, if your customers rarely (if ever) engage with a live chat on your website, is that something that adds value or is it something you’ve implemented to demonstrate you’re a company who’s using the latest technology? This is how money is wasted in digital transformation projects. Without a proper plan or strategy, companies dive in on a blanket buying spree on new tech with no idea whether it will actually improve their existing operations.
The purpose of a digital transformation in a contact centre shouldn’t be to replace human agents. Instead, it should be to make it easier for them to do their jobs more efficiently by taking away the repetitive elements of their roles, so they can focus on complex cases and tasks that add more value to the business and the customer.
Chatbots are a prime example of this type of technology. These web-based chat features aren’t there to replace the human part of customer service. They are better at dealing with FAQs that are easily answered, but take up a lot of time because lots of customers ask them.
This is another common problem with digital transformation projects (not just in call centres). If you’re going to introduce new technology or a new communication channel (like video), how is it going to fit in with what you’re already using? A poor digital transformation strategy will simply introduce new technologies into the company, inevitably creating a complicated system of tools working in isolation that aren’t designed to work together. The best way to undergo a digital transformation is to take stock of what’s already in the company, what’s working (but could be improved) and what’s not working and needs upgrading. Once you know where the changes need to be made, you can concentrate on making the best use of your investment.
For example, you might find that you have a multichannel contact centre, but all the elements are working in isolation. If customers need to switch between a voice call and a video call, it means ending one call and setting up a new one. Or you might not be able to access customer data entered into one system when using another one. In these instances your digital transformation would look at bringing in a contact centre as a service infrastructure. This would combine all your communications channels into one system that work together seamlessly, while allowing customer data to be accessed across channels, so you can have comprehensive visibility of the customer journey.
One thing about digital transformation is that you can invest in all the new technology you want, but if your team doesn’t know how to use it properly you’ll never see the full benefits or the return on your investment. Employee training is a critical step on the road to a successful contact centre digital transformation.This is particularly true as customers become more demanding about having their problems solved or questions answered quicker. As this need for seamless customer experiences increases, customer service agents will have to become more knowledgeable about products and services so they can deal with enquiries effectively.
That’s not to say your team needs to be trained on every aspect of your omnichannel contact centre. It’s entirely possible to have channel experts in your company (similar to product experts) who can deal with customers on a specific channel or at a certain stage of the customer journey.
This is a framework we used when working with one of the UK’s leading online travel agencies – On The Beach. They were looking for a partner to help them reduce the number of dropped calls within their service team, and also set up a local presence in countries where they had no physical office. We helped them to introduce an innovative communications solution that solved their problems and created a fully connected, cross border, customer communication system. You can read more about the project here.
Having multiple channels of communication is a must for any contact centre. but ‘multichannel’ shouldn’t be confused with omnichannel. Any contact centre with phone, video and messaging is multichannel. The difference is the connection between each of these tools in an omnichannel environment that allows customers to jump between channels as they want to – while still getting the same information.
For example a customer may get one piece of information from your IVR or website, but when they speak to a human agent, they’re told something different. This is a recipe for a poor customer experience, as it leaves your customer confused about what information to believe, and your agents need to clarify this information, rather than solve customer problems.This, again, highlights the need, not just for the different channels in your contact centre, but to have all those channels connected.
The last stage in a successful contact centre digital transformation is making use of the huge amounts of data you have access to. You should be collecting data about interactions at every stage of the customer journey (which is easy to do in a digitally focused, cloud based contact centre). By investigating this information you’ll get a 360 degree view of the customer experience, and can collate actionable insights to create better experiences in the future. This can be achieved all in one platform, from one console.
All businesses aim to offer the best experience for their customers, so what sets you apart from the rest? We’re here to help you create customer experiences that allow you to stand out from the crowd. From CCaaS solutions to moving your business to the cloud, we have everything you need to provide the best customer service. Speak to our experts today – fill in our contact form or call 0344 875 8880.