Rick Hoefert is Chief Customer Officer at ASAPP. He has 37 years experience in leading CX Voice and Digital. Prior to ASAPP, he was COO of TouchCommerce (now a part of Nuance Communications NASDAQ: NUAN).
The last couple of months have been some of the hardest for many of us—including ASAPP and our customers. What this crisis has proven is the critical importance of our contact centers to the success of our companies—across every industry.
COVID-19 has tested CX teams in new ways, in harder ways. But during these last couple of months, I’ve been asking myself this question lately—“Why haven’t some things in the contact center really changed in the last 30 years?” There are still the same pressure points. For example, agents seeking to solve customer problems that continue to increase in complexity. In the meantime, customer expectations continue to increase in terms of response and resolution time, and COVID-19 has exacerbated this need.
A customer’s experience with support can make or break your chance at repeat business.
Customers live in a world of instant interactions, so they don’t have a lot of patience for even slight hold times or repeated requests for information. In fact, a customer’s experience with support can make or break your chance at repeat business, as we have learned especially in the last few months.
While you’re hanging onto legacy contact center technology and processes, your competitors are using the lessons learned from this extraordinary period to break new ground in customer experience. (And I’m not talking about using simple chatbots.)
So, it’s time for change. It’s time for us to provide experiences that delight our customers, enable us to meet pressured budgets to come, and allow us to scale for the next 30 years.
Following are the five capabilities your contact center should have in a post-COVID-19 world
#1 Real-time agent augmentation
Real-time agent augmentation means that you have the capability to learn from what your very best agents are doing and saying, and then predict what all your other agents should say and do in the same situation. It means that you have the capability to listen, record, and transcribe every voice and every chat interaction. And it means you can do this in real-time—without programming FAQs and workflows into a knowledge base. It means turning every agent into your best agent.
#2 End-to-end view of your customer’s journey
To solve complex problems that occur in contact centers, agents need a comprehensive view of a customer’s journey as soon as they connect. With legacy technology, agents only see information from a customer on one channel. Imagine the customer experience you could provide if agents could see a schedule of past interactions, regardless of channel, as well as the current context of activity—like which web page your customer is viewing now. This contextual information in real-time is a superpower that provides higher business value, better service, better customer retention, and personalized case handling.
#3: Access to real-time customer insights and sentiment
Real-time access means that you have technology in place that is learning the most common customer questions and concerns—not just historically—but that day, that hour. So, when phones get flooded with questions about the impending hurricane, the drop in the market, the current network outage—your agents have the right answers to share—in real-time—even if they’ve not been registered yet in your knowledge base.
#4 Elimination of “channel surfing” to get a problem resolved
Does this seem familiar to you? Your customer has a question or a problem.
They look on your web site and can’t find what they’re looking for.
They see a chat icon and ask their question. Your chatbot crawls through FAQs and answers that have been pre-programmed and can’t help them, so suggests they call your 1-800 number.
Your customer dials the 1-800 number and speaks or types in basic answers—problem, account number, last four of SSN. And still can’t get an answer.
They ask to speak to an agent, who then proceeds to ask them for their problem, account number and last four of SSN.
That’s at least (hopefully just?) four steps. Three times they’ve had to explain their question or problem, and at least two times they’ve had to re-tell who they were. You need integration between channels, and you need agent assistance on both voice and digital channels.
#5 Text and Native-Mobile Device Support as a Channel
The future of customer communication can’t just be messenger apps, social media, or ongoing voice support. It also has to include texting. Businesses that aren’t texting need to consider how text messaging fits into your communication strategy. You probably already know your competitors are doing it. Unlike chatting, texting support for your customer is like having an ongoing text conversation with a friend. They can put the phone down for a few hours — without getting disconnected — and continue the conversation later. With texting, your customer can respond when they’re ready, and go about their life the rest of the time.
CX is the new competitive battlefield. This is the team that can drive new revenue from cross-selling and up-selling. This is the team that can improve customer retention. This is the team that can improve customer satisfaction. It’s time for CX to change, to help drive positive change for their companies.