By Tony Jurica
Maintaining lasting relationships with customers once meant focusing on product ratings and decreasing wait times when a customer called into the organization. While these measurements still matter, now the customer experience is more about understanding the journey the customer makes when contacting the organization and making each step personalized and efficient.
Most decision-makers agree that delivering an exceptional customer experience is important to ongoing success. However, there is often reluctance when it comes to investing the time, money, and effort necessary to optimize their customer contact systems, people, and processes to meet today’s customer expectations.
Struggling to Keep Up
Many businesses find it hard to keep up with customer expectations because they haven’t kept up with how customers want to communicate. A growing number of people (and not just millennials) want to engage on digital channels such as text message, web chat, and social media. Supporting these systems effectively is difficult when you’re reliant on a legacy voice-centric contact center system.
Hindered by an outdated contact center infrastructure, supporting digital channels often means setting up silos of technology. Companies implement separate solutions for chat, social media, and texting. Though the customer can contact the company via their digital channel of choice, the new challenge is achieving a 360-degree view of customer interactions.
Statistics vary, but about half of customers use two or more channels to complete a transaction with a company. Disconnected technology makes it difficult to view and access the journeys these customers take as they use multiple contact channels to complete a transaction.
It’s tempting to think the answer is to simply swap out a solution here or integrate a channel there. Yet patching a system that is growing obsolete produces frustration, added costs, and wasted time. Delivering an exceptional customer experience entails more than a series of minor, cobbled-together fixes. Rather, it’s an ongoing commitment that requires a long-term investment and the right technology to address both current and future needs.
An Organizational Commitment
Shifting beyond rudimentary customer service to continuously exceed customer expectations requires the buy-in and effort of more than those working in the contact center. Customer service touches most teams, including marketing, sales, IT, legal, human resources, and quality assurance. This means that every employee must be on board with an organization-wide commitment to customer experience excellence. Cross-functional collaboration is essential for placing the customer’s needs first and improving the customer journey along every touch point.
To get it right, drive customer experience goals by customer expectations. Then consider business needs. This begins by identifying the limits of existing technology. With a contact center system designed primarily for voice interactions, it’s clear that a fundamental improvement need is moving to a platform that seamlessly integrates all channels and solutions and breaks down technology silos.
What Are the Possibilities?
By investing in a scalable contact center platform, you gain the flexibility to move beyond offering a series of single interactions to providing cross-channel journeys. These new tools will retain history and context to deliver personalized service and eliminate the need for customers to repeat themselves.
However, this is just the start. After deploying a new contact center platform, it’s much easier to add and integrate additional channels and solutions. Workforce optimization tools, CRM solutions, and new digital channels can also be deployed. This enables you to stay one step ahead of competitors, increase business efficiency, and continuously exceed customer expectations.
Prepare for Rapid Innovations Around the Corner
Artificial intelligence (AI) can automate tasks and improve the customer experience. Businesses use chatbots, powered by AI and machine learning, to maximize self-service interactions. This enables live agents to solve problems more efficiently. And this technology is no longer a novelty—it’s gaining acceptance as it becomes more versatile and efficient.
Meanwhile, intelligently connected devices are also changing the realm of customer experiences. They enable next-generation automation and personalization. Imagine a device that can request a callback through a single button or automatically launch a service ticket that routes to a local service provider. We already see this level of engagement in automobiles, appliances, and medical devices. And it will certainly grow in many other industries.
As these innovations gain popularity and adoption, it will become more important than ever to have a contact center platform that supports the customer experience across all channels. The companies that continue to use outdated technology will slip further behind, missing key opportunities to grow and evolve along with their customers’ expectations.
By investing in the strategies and technologies that support an amazing customer experience, you will build the kind of brand loyalty that turns prospects into repeat customers. Then they’ll share their positive experiences with others, and this represents a significant return on investment.
Tony Jurica, the senior director of Voxai Solutions’ Cloud Practice, brings over two decades of experience in the contact center technology industry, both as an industry consultant and as a technical leader in a Fortune 500 company. Tony lends his expertise in managing enterprise contact centers to customers to support their efforts to improve their customer experience.