2020 was a challenging year for everyone. Yet it was also a period of opportunities to fuel innovation and turn over strategies in a matter of days or weeks rather than setting monthly or annual plans. According to Precisely, almost 90% of organisations have updated their customer experience (CX) strategies in response to the pandemic.
Shifting to new models in real time require a foundation: business agility. In an increasingly hyper-connected world, we’re seeing that consumers are demanding 24/7 multi-channel support and greater intimacy with brands. Trust, visibility, and immediacy are predicted to be key in an evolving environment.
Integrating flexibility into businesses’ overall CX strategies will enable to keep up with the pace of change. In 2021, CPM Group envisions contact centres will continue to evolve into true ‘experience hubs’ as greater methods of contact will be embraced to match fast-changing consumer behaviours and new technologies. Here are five areas that we envisage will be critical when aiming an excellent customer service experience:
1. Expand contact channels: Omnichannel with digital focus
Investing in a cloud-based omnichannel solution will allow businesses to expand the channels of contact and respond in real time. Today, contact centres are handling much more than phone calls as customers increasingly seek support via messaging, self-serve, social media, email, apps, etc.
Businesses need to be ready to address customers issues and concerns quickly and in their preferred channel to create better experiences, and in turn, have happier customers.
Social distancing has contributed to a much wider adoption of digital channels across all generations. Forrester predicts there will be a 40% increase in digital customer service interactions in 2021.
This year and more than ever, digital will occupy a pivotal role in the customer experience.
2. Rely on technology and automation: Efficiency through artificial intelligence (AI)
AI and machine learning are evolving rapidly. Chatbots, virtual assistants, interactive voice response (IVR) or natural language processing (NLP) are driving efficiencies by automating simpler contact centre tasks that were previously managed manually by an agent.
Automation aims to successfully handle some of those interactions through intelligent algorithms without interference of a human, leading not only to cost and time efficiencies, but also enhanced customer satisfaction through speedy case resolution.
By implementing intelligent IVR solutions, CPM Group have seen up to 36% of consumers successfully completing the end-to-end CX process through self-serve. Thereby allowing live agents to handle the more complex queries, while AI supports transactional cases.
Understanding that human and virtual agents complement each other rather than being competitors is crucial to make the most out of CX technology. The key will be harnessing digital and human contact strategies in the coming years.
3. Optimise resources: Remote working and peak demand challenges
Work-from-home is here to stay, and companies are getting better at managing decentralised teams. This can be a challenge when engaging employees, but it offers a positive side: flexibility. Empowering agents with the ability to influence their working hours and environment can translate into lower agent turnover, higher productivity, and greater employee loyalty.
Furthermore, remote working models offer contact centres scheduling flexibility and greater availability of agents to tap into during seasonal and unexpected peak demands. This dynamic resourcing approach works extremely well in times of crisis management such as the peak customer service demand in industries like travel during the pandemic.
Resource optimisation is also achieved through the combination of human and digital forces. Robotic approaches must be managed together with human agents, as one integrated workforce. CPM achieved 50% headcount efficiencies for one client by blending complementary teams and introducing automation.
4. Analyse consumer behaviours: Data leads to personalisation
Today, an increasing number of companies are employing customer analytics to better understand their customers and to capitalise on that information. With increasing actionable data-rich technology, reporting and analytics are expected to be a true competitive advantage in 2021.
Knowing what influences consumers, how they feel, and what they think help brands fill in the gap and ultimately convert consumers to purchase. Real time reporting speeds up that process and delivers actionable insights that in turn drive continuous improvement in the end user experience. By understanding each consumer, companies can deliver tailored services which provide added value and connect at a personal level.
5. Enhance employee experience: Groundwork for improved customer satisfaction
Parallel to workforce optimisation, workforce engagement management (WEM) is rising as a decisive CX trend in 2021. A Frost & Sullivan study on WEM found that 89% of companies improving contact centre engagement will significantly enhance the quality of customer experience.
By implementing tools that motivate, recognize and engage employees, companies can nurture their workforce to become highly effective, knowledgeable and committed. This includes learning and development, collaborative software, well-being initiatives and a strong company culture.
Additionally, as remote working becomes more mainstream, a greater emphasis on belonging is needed. Fostering this unifying force is the groundwork that will boost a shared sense of purpose and therefore higher engagement.
Delivering an exceptional customer experience becomes the end goal for any brand, but a positive or negative brand experience comes from the interactions customers have with its employees. Happy and engaged agents create better experiences, which ultimately leads to more satisfied and loyal customers.
Customer experience is a crucial differentiator in today’s business and will continue shaping the competitive landscape in 2021. Meeting and exceeding customer service expectations will continue to be the key to succeed this year and beyond.