Contact Centers Must Go Digital or Lose Customers

Your customers are engaging with you through a variety of channels. In 2015, for the first time, Web self-service replaced the phone as the top channel used by customers, according to a Forrester Research report. Electronic live-assist channels are also rapidly gaining in popularity. Today’s consumers typically use self-service as a first point of contact and escalate more-complex questions to live agents.

This intensifies the importance of live agent interactions in building customer relationships. Yet, contact centers are not investing in digital technologies—omnichannel solutions, unified queuing, routing and reporting and process guidance—to keep up with customer demand. But they should be, as well as developing a Communicator pool skilled in multiple channels, or they will suffer the consequences that result from customer dissatisfaction.

The digital imperative is in response to increasing customer impatience with poor service. As consumers living in the age of technology confront increasing complexity in their daily lives, they want product and service issues resolved quickly when reaching out to businesses. Case in point, the Forrester report shows that 55 percent of U.S. online adults are likely to abandon their online purchase if they cannot quickly find an answer to a question. This goes hand in hand with the Forrester statistic that 77 percent of respondents say valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service.

Companies and customers gain when contact centers deliver pain-free service using streamlined processes. Customers are satisfied and companies contain costs by minimizing handle time. This is the main reason, in fact, that customers seek self-service and digital communication channels: minimal interaction involvement and irritation.

Deploying digital technologies in response to consumer demand takes on even greater urgency as customers continue to contact businesses at an increasing rate in comparison to historical contact volumes, per Forrester. Unfortunately, even those contact centers that are deploying digital technology in keeping with customer demand are not necessarily adopting best practices for the delivery of service over those channels.

In fact, Forrester reports that 10 percent of chat users and 25 percent of Twitter users are dissatisfied with customer service over these channels. What’s more, only 36 percent of contact center decision makers report that their organizations have implemented multichannel integration to provide consistent experiences.

To better align contact center technology and operations to customer service, consider the following strategies suggested by Forrester:

  • Leverage data: Monitor customer searches and inquiries to ensure that Web and mobile self-service content is in line with customer expectations.
  • Monitor and share customer information: Employ proactive digital engagement technologies to track customer journeys across your website, IVR and mobile app, and then pass the gleaned information off to Communicators so their service aligns with customer research.
  • Personalize interactions: Use computer telephony integrated with back-end systems to send Communicators customer histories that allow them to personalize interactions. Process guidance technologies allow you to push that right data to Communicators at the appropriate point during the interaction.
  • Invest in a universal desktop: Standardize Communicator experiences across channels to increase productivity by deploying a universal desktop that integrates channels at the user interface layer.

Better yet, Forrester recommends retiring siloed technologies and replacing them with next-generation omnichannel solutions that provide consistent business processes, user experiences and reports. Successful companies will deploy cross-organizational teams that represent all customer touchpoints, helping their contact centers “go digital.”