Digital and AI-enabled self-service options are what customers want, and contact centers are heeding the message.
Taken from a 2020 Gartner report on contact center trends driving change, we’ve summarized some actionable insights that will help contact center leaders make smarter strategic decisions.
An increase in call volume coupled with dwindling IT budgets are driving the need for more substantial digital transformation in contact center leaders’ quests for continued customer experience improvements. After years of adding technology solutions for messaging in an effort to keep pace with customers’ ever-growing demand for digital channels, many contact center leaders are left with inadequate understandings of customer journeys and lack easy access to cross-channel interaction data. This incomplete picture, in turn, has left many leaders holding the bag when it comes to showing the return on investment of their digital enhancements.
Because of the pandemic impact on contact centers, there has been a huge push to utilize technology in creative ways without adding agent headcount or sacrificing service quality.
Gartner® recommends using a mix of messaging apps, bots, and virtual agents to build “cohesive connections across channels” that can be used to generate deeper insights into experience siloes and pinpoint areas of improvement. To get started, they suggest that contact center leaders:
■ Create a strategy to offer a digital-first proposition—offer automated and self-service options across a range of channels to serve as the frontline of your service strategy.
■ Build a tiered approach to your multichannel suite—this means implementing a multi-channel service strategy that will allow you to reach your customers using the channels and devices that are most relevant to them at the points in the journey that make the most sense.
■ Facilitate seamless channel switching—this means that regardless of their entry point into the service queue, customer interaction history follows from channel to channel (voice, email, and webchat).
■ Complement with mobile messaging apps — this means incorporating popular consumer messaging apps like WhatsApp to round out your asynchronous offering.
■ Use virtual agents and chatbots to fulfill repetitive tasks— this means slimming call queues with intelligent routing and conversational IVR tools that ease the burden on live agents.
According to the report, the biggest areas of investment interest for contact centers were focused on four areas:
A focal point of these four areas is integrating data. Contact center leaders need to unify information across important systems and invest in purpose-built automation and workflow solutions to avoid redundancy and streamline collaboration for frictionless customer experience.
Our own LiveVox survey findings cut a similar path as Gartner® data, showing contact center leaders understand the foundational importance that an integrated platform plays in enhancing other customer services areas.
From a tactical standpoint, adopting AI-enabled messaging. Virtual agents and other technologies pivot on setting and measuring the right goals. Beyond the ability to evaluate performance, identifying successes and areas that need improvement, and having the capacity to fill gaps, where live agents fall short, is a key area of opportunity. Using virtual agents to improve human productivity, integrating a smart workforce management solution, and automating routine tasks is a good first step. For more on what metrics to measure, check out our resource guide to managing KPIs here.
Opportunities for contact centers
As we noted in our 2021 Omnichannel Trends Report, 42% of contact centers reported integration struggles as barriers to seamless service and productivity patterns. Overdependence on legacy systems and a tendency to shoehorn in new capabilities including messaging, ticketing, and QM applications correlated with a lack of BI and organizational performance clarity.
The biggest opportunity for contact centers amidst this new wave of AI-enabled digital transformation lies in the ability to collect information across the customer journey. Doing so generates insight into areas such as agent queues, channel behavior, handle times, and more.
With integrated interaction data, managers can hone in on once siloed parts of their organization through the use of comprehensive reporting to optimize key parts of the customer journey with artificial intelligence, leading to the improvement of agent and customer KPIs.