Customers expect more than they’re currently getting.
They’re not willing to tolerate the frustrating, disjointed experiences of the past—they want connected, intelligent experiences, regardless of how they choose to engage with your brand. Customers don’t view their interactions with your business as multiple experiences; they see them as one experience, and they expect them to feel seamless.
More than that, they expect you to know who they are and what they want to accomplish (without having to repeat it every time they transfer between channels or agents), so they get an effortless, personalized experience and a fast resolution.
To increase customer retention and lifetime value, contact centers need to invest in continuous, customer-centric digital transformation. And these initiatives can have a significant impact—on the customer experience and on your bottom line. Just ask the 91.6% of companies that saw an increase in customer loyalty after a digital transformation. Or the 84.4% that experienced increased revenue as a result of transforming1.
It’s an evolution, but it’s still revolutionary
Every contact center transformation looks different; it all depends on where you start. But wherever you start from, it’s an evolution. It’s an ongoing series of optimizations and technology deployments that, among other things, help increase agent utilization and performance, and improve the customer experience.
Whether it’s adding chat or a virtual assistant to a traditional call center, or implementing omni-channel predictive conversational experiences, all digital transformations are major undertakings. But there are a few success factors they all have in common…
1: Understand what you want to achieve
Before you start looking at tech solutions, you need to identify the specific part of the customer experience gap that you want to bridge.
That means assessing the current state of your customer experience to understand why customers contact your business, what they expect from those engagements, and where they’re experiencing the biggest frustrations. It also means analyzing agent performance and behavior, as well as underlying business processes, to reveal the best opportunities to optimize, innovate, and transform.
And the results of your investigations might not always be what you’re expecting. For example, one company we worked with thought that the reason it had such high agent-to-agent transfer rates was poor agent compliance with its protocols. But after analyzing thousands of call transcripts it became clear that one of the biggest factors was actually that customers were failing to authenticate in the IVR. That’s a simple, actionable insight into a major source of unnecessary costs and customer frustration—and an easy target for optimization.
Of course, you’ll need to do a lot of information gathering before you can get started on optimizing your operations—but it doesn’t stop there. It’s important to keep gathering key information so you can assess whether your transformation journey is headed in the right direction and delivering the results you’re looking for.
2: Get leadership support and business alignment
Transformation isn’t just a short-term investment; it’s a long-term mindset. It’s essential to have leadership buy-in from the start. It helps ensure those short-term investments are made, and it’s essential for driving what can be major cultural shifts toward great customer-centricity, cross-functional collaboration, and increased risk-taking.
Communication and alignment between the business, contact center operations, and IT are also vital. Everyone always needs to be on the same page—which requires high-level governance—and frontline staff must be trained and ready when new systems and initiatives go live.
You’ll also need to plan for the ongoing governance of your transformation program, appointing a group of senior leaders who are customer-focused and willing to take calculated risks to enable innovation. Leadership buy-in must extend beyond the launch of the program and continue into the future with continuous communication of your plans, goals, and achievements at all levels of the business.
3: Plan for ongoing oversight and continuous coaching
Continually optimizing agent performance is a critical part of contact center transformation. Of the consumers surveyed by Frost & Sullivan, only three out of 10 said they always feel cared for by the agent. And only four out of 10 always feel as though the agent is listening to them.
Clearly there’s a lot of room for improvement, and analytics tools and AI technologies can help by enabling you to identify best practices and training opportunities. More advanced contact centers even use AI-powered analytics to give managers real-time insight into agent performance and compliance, script adherence, and customer satisfaction, so they can provide highly targeted coaching wherever it’s needed.
Automating performance monitoring means that, instead of manually listening to a handful of calls for each agent each month, you can identify previously unseen trends, issues, and training opportunities by assessing every call automatically. Aside from the agent performance optimization benefits, the cost savings can be huge—one company we worked with had 500 people just listening to calls and filling out scorecards. That’s a compelling opportunity for automation.
And speaking of automation, it’s not just agents that require ongoing oversight—it’s also important to continually monitor, assess, and optimize your IVR and virtual assistant (VA). Analyzing the factors behind VA-to-agent transfers, for example, can help you identify new opportunities to improve your self-service offering for specific customer journeys. And experienced agents can be invaluable for tagging call transcripts so that conversational AI systems can develop their understanding of customer intents.
Start small, think big
It can be easy to become overwhelmed by the enormous possibilities that digital innovations offer for contact centers. But whatever your own transformation looks like, it’s important to take it in bitesize pieces—fix one part of the customer experience and then grow your capabilities from there.
And remember that transformation never stops. It’s a continuous process of optimization that involves constantly looking at your operations and asking questions like:
- — How can we be more effective in the most cost-effective way? And how will we measure our success?
- — What new tools, processes, and delivery mechanisms do we need to bridge the customer experience gap?
- — Are we achieving the goals we set for our transformation initiatives?
- — Do we need to adjust our approach or pivot to a new one?
It’s by finding the answers to those questions—and regularly analyzing your progress—that you can deliver great experiences at the lowest cost to serve. And that’s what will turn your contact center from a cost of doing business into an important profit driver.
1The Evolution of Customer Experience: A Look Ahead to 2020,Dimension Data, 2018