Today’s economy is often referred to as an experience economy, in which customers value the overall purchasing experience as much as the service or product they’re buying. This means ensuring high quality interactions offer a valuable opportunity for businesses to differentiate themselves.
Although the experience economy has been put to the test by recent events and social restrictions, it has also highlighted the importance of CX (opens in new tab) experiences. Customers have demonstrated that service experiences matter more than ever through their choosing of organizations that exhibit agility by providing high-quality service under adverse conditions. These organizations have an opportunity to further seize market share by continuing to transform their service experience and thrive as the economic landscape continues to evolve.
So, how do organizations maximise the opportunity to grow their brands, as well as develop and maintain customer relationships in uncertain times? What will the customer service landscape look like in the shadow of this pandemic?
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John O’Hara is President EMEA at NICE (opens in new tab)
Contact centres are reinventing themselves and incorporating agility into their DNA by innovating across three core pillars: service models, a dynamically managed workforce, and real-time insights. Let’s take a closer look at how these pillars of agility will drive business success in 2021 and beyond.
Transforming service models
Recent events have proven that successful service models require agility to allow companies to respond to uncertainty and disruption. The ability to move contact agents to work from home (opens in new tab) and continue to provide the service customers expect made the difference between thriving and struggling in 2020. Sudden and constant change on a global scale is now more the norm than the exception, so contact centres must establish a strong and stable, yet flexible, foundation that allows them to respond in real-time with zero disruption or downtime. This can be most effectively accomplished by leveraging a cloud approach for routing and CX applications versus on premise hardware.
Taking such an approach will enable organizations to optimize time-to-innovate and constantly stay ahead regardless of the situation. More specifically, they will be able to easily add or remove services and digital channels depending on the evolving needs of both their customers and employees.
A cloud platform enables businesses to extend contact centre capabilities to any environment – agents’ homes, the office, or a hybrid approach – providing the elasticity to adjust to changing interaction volumes during times of uncertainty. It will also empower customers and employees to interact through an omnichannel environment that combines a mix of voice and digital channels, which is now essential to ensuring a superior customer experience.
For example, omnichannel routing capabilities enable customers to have a seamless experience with contact centre agents regardless of the channel they choose – albeit one or many – during a single customer service interaction. The experience is also hyper-personalized and predictive, resulting in high levels of both customer and agent satisfaction.
Ultimately, cloud-based service models provide contact centres with unparalleled scalability, elasticity and resilience, putting a new level of agility right at the core of business operations. That provides a powerful opportunity for those organizations ready to embrace the future of customer service.
Managing workforce divergence
The ability to dynamically manage office-based and at-home employees and ensure a smooth transition between different working modes is now a key requirement for all organizations. Workforce management solutions must be flexible enough to support employees in the hybrid working environments that have become commonplace, as well as multiple digital and voice service channels. This is a trend that will continue throughout the year, with 43% of CX leaders saying at least half of their agents will continue to work from home even after offices re-open.
Contact centres therefore need to rely on capabilities that help them keep their workforce motivated and engaged, providing flexible schedules and a focus on wellness. This includes things such as split shifts to enable contact centre agents to handle personal needs, as well as group and personal wellness exercises to deal with increasing stress levels brought on by increasingly complex customer requests.
AI-powered forecasting and scheduling technology can provide teams with enhanced flexibility, ensuring that the right resources with the right skills are available at the right time. These technologies can also help to promote a positive work/life balance through more intelligent schedule management, leading to increased employee motivation and performance.
Businesses should also deploy virtual assistant solutions to support employees working remotely. Left without the ability to receive face-to-face advice from or consult with supervisors, such solutions can act as a personal coach for at-home employees for complex interactions and training. By automating guidance in real time, employees are also empowered to provide quick, accurate and consistent customer service in any situation. These solutions can also help them stay productive and efficient by guiding them through critical and complex processes and driving them and their organization to remain compliant with regulations.
Providing real-time agent guidance
While understanding past trends is important to driving efficiency, it is not enough in times of sudden and critical change. As such, contact centres must provide real-time guidance and analytics – powered by AI – which will allow them to rapidly adapt to unforeseen challenges and dynamically adjust key behaviours such as exhibiting empathy and developing rapport during interactions.
These capabilities provide visibility and context into customer interactions, enabling companies to deliver hyper-personalized experiences and react to customer needs and expectations as they evolve. Businesses can use the power of analytics to make sense of data in real-time and uncover the actions they should take to improve customer experience in the moment, in turn increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Real-time agent guidance also empowers managers by providing them with a comprehensive picture of employee performance and activity with agents working from home. It uncovers the root causes of service attributes such as customer sentiment and can provide visibility into how employees are performing.
But this is just scratching the surface. Real-time agent guidance will increasingly become an absolute cornerstone of future business success, equipping businesses with the data needed to quickly change focus or adjust their approach when needed.
The benefits of business agility are clear for all to see. Companies have a huge opportunity to differentiate themselves from their competitors and drive growth by building CX agility into everything they do. Embracing an agile mindset across these three pillars – service models, employee management and data-driven insights – will empower businesses to rapidly adapt to anything that comes their way, providing a springboard for exceptional customer experiences and long-term success.
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