The past two years have fundamentally and permanently changed how we think about and approach customer service. Faced with an ongoing pandemic, the shift to remote work, supply chain disruptions, and the “Great Resignation,” companies have been forced to adapt and evolve at an incredible pace, re-examining the role of customer service and the critical link it provides between their customers and their brand.
As we move into the new year, brands will need to continue to advance every aspect of CX to stay competitive, as customer expectations (and frustrations) reach an all-time high. But how to best serve customers, grow revenue, and empower workers, all while keeping costs down? Here are four things forward-thinking CX organizations are doing right, right now.
Elevating the Frontline Agent Experience
Contact center agents represent the voice of your brand. It has always been one of the most difficult and important jobs in any company, and an underserved part of the customer + brand ecosystem. But in the wake of the Great Resignation, there is an even more critical need for companies to focus on agent and employee satisfaction.
It has become increasingly difficult to attract and retain talent in the current environment. With demand at an all-time high, agents are migrating to companies that value them and prioritize employee well-being, flexibility, and engagement. To reduce churn and maintain a motivated workforce, leading companies are actively working to make agents’ jobs better.
If you want to provide a great customer experience, start with the voice of your brand—your agents. When we look at the fundamental forces at play in evolving CX, it is essential to focus on the people at the center of the conversation.
It starts with focusing attention and resources on training that engages employees from day one and accelerates time to proficiency. Employing AI to improve onboarding and coaching is one way forward-thinking companies are flattening the learning curve. Advanced machine learning can now analyze every word and action taken by top agents in real time, compiling best practices to guide others on how to handle any customer request. With this streamlined approach, new agents get up to speed faster while building competence and confidence.
In addition to training, agents need technology that supports, not overwhelms. Many today are faced with a jumbled stack of applications and processes that can make completing tasks difficult. Companies are starting to be more mindful of the entire journey agents take to fulfill each customer request. With that knowledge, they can identify where to engage automation to reduce tedious tasks and streamline workflows, enabling agents to concentrate on what they actually want to do—help customers.
Making Customer Experience a Feature
There are more ways to engage with customers than ever before. Due to the global pandemic, digital channels more quickly became the norm, and companies are making themselves available on a growing number of platforms (e.g., Apple Messages for Business, Google Business Messaging, SMS, and more). Most consumers now expect unlimited access to their favorite brands through seamless multichannel service. The companies succeeding in CX are those that continue to move aggressively towards these digital and asynchronous experiences. Creating a cohesive cross-channel experience is key to both automated and human-driven modalities, allowing customers to engage wherever and whenever, while supplying agents with critical context to deliver personal and relevant experiences.
To maintain a competitive advantage, brands must provide memorable, elevated service that builds loyalty (and increased lifetime value). This means experiences that bring customers back again and again, making them fans of the company based not only on the product purchased, but how the company took care of them during a “moment of truth.” We are seeing more companies emphasize experience, now fully aware of its potential to differentiate their brand—and possibly turn their cost center into a profit center.
Using Data to Fuel CX Innovation
The growing move to digital, increase in smart products, and evolution of tech to capture customer behavior all mean more data for companies to digest. Faced with an almost overwhelming volume of customer and operational data, leading brands are examining how best to use this information to both improve processes and deliver more effective service. Those at the forefront have figured out how to make the data do the work for them, using AI-powered analytics to inform everything from marketing strategy to agent onboarding.
Customers today expect hyper-personalized interactions with brands, and are more likely to respond to communications that understand their specific interests and history with the company. CX teams can now employ AI to learn from every interaction with an individual, remembering and adapting to their personal preferences to tailor engagement efforts. To truly improve business outcomes, organizations have adopted platforms that make full use of AI to feed analytics and gain actionable insights—in real time. And thanks to the availability of data on past interactions along with advancements in natural language processing, companies can even engage AI services that simulate customer scenarios to train agents in more dynamic, real-world settings before they get on an actual call or chat.
Building a Continuous Cycle of Automation
As noted, one trend increasingly evident in CX is the growing confidence in and adoption of AI. The key here is finding the right balance between automation and humanity. Customers still want human interaction, perhaps more than ever after years of less than optimal chatbot conversations. While bots continue to serve a role, there is a push now to find smarter ways to engage automation for both customers and agents.
What is commonly referred to as “agent assist” has become a core capability. But this basic feature is only the beginning of how CX teams can use AI to achieve significant productivity gains and better customer experiences. The most advanced companies are exploring ways to integrate AI-driven capabilities throughout agent workflows. This unlocks the ability to not only dramatically streamline processes, but power more and more automation using the knowledge gained through machine learning. As the ML models study each interaction, they continually feed improvements to the automated experience, identifying opportunities to both further support agents and enhance self-service for customers.
Looking to the Future Now
Today’s leading companies understand that to compete they must focus on the entire ecosystem of the customer journey—and that starts with frontline agents. Ultimately, we know:
- Happy, engaged agents provide superior customer service
- Elevated experiences are the key to winning customer loyalty
- Experiential data fuels analytics to produce valuable insights
- These insights can help enhance automation, improving engagement
To succeed in 2022 and beyond, organizations not only need to understand this cycle, but foster each part of it. That is what ASAPP helps our customers do everyday.