As much as the changes businesses have experienced over the last year seemed to happen overnight, they were, in fact, slowly simmering on the back burner. There’s been a gradual shift toward digital channels and self-service, and these customer demands have created a need for swifter, more precise backend workflows and campaigns.
The one thing that’s constant in the contact center is change. Knowing that what does the contact center of the future look like? We don’t have a crystal ball, but we do predict that customer relationship will continue to be the most critical differentiator for businesses of all sizes and industries. The implications of that put customer care and support agents front and center.
Here we take a look at some of the habits we think will define the customer service leaders of the future.
What are the Habits that Will Define the Future of Customer Service?
The customer service leader of the future will not abandon lessons learned this past year. They see how these new technologies can be harnessed to better serve their customers.
Customer experience is defined by each road marker along the journey. From initiation to hang up, everything that happens in between affects your customer’s experience. The smoother and more efficient you can make this process, the happier your customer will be.
To be the customer service leader of the future requires contact centers to embrace AI and its branches, unified CRMs, and virtual agents. Without them, contact centers don’t stand a chance of maintaining the high-quality customer service their customers demand.
Imagining where AI will be in the future is a head-spinning undertaking. Things we didn’t think possible, at least for years to come, are coming to fruition before our very eyes.
Let’s consider four strategies for maintaining high-quality customer service and the role AI plays in each.
Prioritize continuous conversations
A lasting connection with your customers starts with the very first interaction and continues throughout your business relationship. Your relationship with your customer is not unlike relationships in your personal life. They require attention to detail. Continuous conversations in the contact demonstrate that your customer’s best interests are at the forefront of your mind. You strive to build upon what went wrong (or right!).
High-quality customer service draws on all past interactions, creating a continuous conversation. This conversation needs to not only carry on across time but also space. No matter what support team member your customers talk to, there is a personalized familiarity to it.
Customer service leaders of the future will use AI to craft a continuous conversation with their customers. Natural language processing gives agents the chance to review, analyze and integrate information from conversations with customers. When this data is stored in a unified CRM across channels, it provides a holistic portrait of your customer to every customer support team member.
Balance speed with personalization
Customers expect you to move beyond only associating their name with their number. You need to be prepared to provide an experienced tailor-made to each customer. AI can give agents information about where customers are calling from and suggest a greeting specific to the time of day. This is particularly important for 24/7 contact centers. Looking at customers’ accounts, AI can even predict with some accuracy the reason your customer may be calling.
Natural language processing can give contact centers insight into customer’s bearing before they even begin a conversation. Interactive voice response (IVR) systems that leverage natural language processing (NLP) can filter and assess vocal and verbal cues. As this technology advances, we may begin to see AI providing accurate suggestions of how to employ learned soft skills like empathy.
Double-down on self-service
A positive customer experience rarely starts with a long wait time. But, when high call volumes swamp the contact center, wait times are unavoidable, right? Not necessarily.
With the assistance of virtual agents, wait times in the contact center can be reduced. Human agents can work on solving complex or delicate customer inquiries while virtual agents take care of more mundane tasks.
Speed is of the essence in delivering service that is worthy of your customer’s loyalty. Self-service options are a great way to increase the lifetime value of customer relationships because they let customers be their own resources on their own terms.
Scaling service with AI
Machine learning can determine with accuracy the best action associated with different ways of giving the same command. Let’s say, for example, a customer can call in asking about their account status. This question can be phrased as “I would like to check on my account status,” “I need to know about my account”, or any other variation a customer can dream up. Machine learning helps improve upon an existing intent and know exactly what your customer needs.
Machine learning algorithms make sure customers are routed to the agent with the correct knowledge and skills to effectively resolve their inquiry. By correctly routing customers, the number of abandoned or repeat calls decreases significantly.
AI can significantly impact your performance. When these three components are optimized, the overall resolution time decreases, and customer happiness increases.
A customer service leader of the future understands that for optimal customer service all channels need to be open. AI helps discover and organize new channels your customers are communicating over. That list can be compiled and used to know which channels to add to your contact center plan. The quicker you are to adopt new channels, the better your customers can reach you. Ideally, this could all be carried automatically and integrated into your agent’s desktop. However, this is still in the future, for now.