January 5, 2021
With any luck, 2021 will be far less disruptive than 2020 as Covid-19 vaccines gradually allow “normal” life to resume. Then again, some of what’s now considered normal was previously atypical — including the permanent implementation of remote work in nearly every sector. Call centers are no exception. Add to that operational improvements driven by sophisticated technology, and it’s easy to see how this rapidly evolving space will continue to have such a significant impact.
To better explain what’s on the horizon, we’ve enlisted veteran contact center consultant and Mindsight partner Vince Fulgenzi of Vitec, Inc. to guide you through critical areas to be mindful of when thinking about the customer experience in 2021.
Customer Feedback: The bottom line is that service and support provided is only as good as the client/customer thinks it is. Opinion is reality in this world, in that the customer perspective is all that really matters. Soliciting and receiving feedback on the entire customer experience is critical to the success of the organization, whether it’s measured as NPS or C-Sat or whatever the current trend may be. If the customer thinks it’s great, it is. If they think it’s bad, that’s also true.
Intelligent Routing and 360 Customer View: Intelligent routing is essentially reversing the traditional sequence by picking the right (perfect) agent for a given client and bringing them to the call versus routing it to the 1st available agent. This is done by using a sophisticated data dip to look at the most recent interaction, what happened, and who processed it. If there was no resolution, perhaps that wasn’t the best person to handle the unresolved issue. The 360-degree view has to do with reviewing the customer feedback, listening to the call, and viewing the screen so that no stone is unturned in terms of getting the complete picture.
Reducing Effort: Most clients care only about getting their issue resolved quickly, conveniently, and hassle-free. While AHT (average handle time) should never be an agent’s goal, it should be monitored with a CIP (customer identification program) in place.
Consistent Experience: Doing great one time only to disappoint the next, or the “two out of three ain’t bad” mentality, is not what customers expect. It needs to be done right every time. Tools that can ensure consistent Process and Procedure will be a new baseline. In most cases, it will go beyond the contact center so that no matter what part of the organization touches the call center, it will be consistently great.
Phone calls will not stop: Even with all the advancement in IVA’s, most customers will want to talk to a human for in certain types of interactions (which is still perceived as the best and most convenient method of resolution). But expect the types of calls to change and the AHTs to increase based on call complexity. While there may be fewer agents overall, the ones that remain will be more highly skilled and paid. Amen to that.
Here’s the reality: more than half of workers aren’t going back to the office. Whatever problems are inherent with remote work, employers have found, are outweighed by the benefits. To name but a handful: less office space to lease, less commuting, fewer needless meetings and much more. And that’s despite some reports that indicate a partly tech-induced productivity drop over the last nine months as workers deal with slower internet speeds and other factors beyond their control. According to Fulgenzi, however, tech can also help solve productivity issues.
“Corporate America wanted their employees on-site where they could be monitored, and now that’s radically changed,” he says. “However, there is still a need for monitoring utilization — which means what percentage of an eight-hour day is somebody actually working — as well as effectiveness or productivity. So measurements of those things are going to become critical to successful organizations.”
For contact centers, that means keeping tabs on the number of interactions between agents and customers, measuring the duration of those interactions, and gauging the outcome.
But technology won’t be used just for monitoring purposes; it’s also a boon to productivity and workflow via increasingly intelligent chatbots that free up live humans to solve more complex call center issues. These aren’t your typical chatbots, though. We’re talking IVA’s capable of passing the legendary Turing test, which means they can handle more than simple conversations and basic FAQs. This new breed can also complete transactions and provide required deliverables, using machine learning to “listen” and adapt.
As a result of successful implementation during Covid-19, 64% of contact centers expect to increase automation technology in the coming year and beyond. Will that mean displaced workers? Yes, seeing as IVA technology costs way less than humans — like, 90 percent less. But just as ATMs didn’t eliminate the needs for bank tellers, many of these call center staffers will be retrained for jobs that AI technology can’t yet perform.
“Whether people want it or not, AI technology is here to stay,” Fulgenzi says. “So stop fearing it and start embracing it.”
About the Expert
Vince Fulgenzi threw open the doors of VITEC Inc. in 1989 and has never looked back. Vince is a trusted advisor for centers around the globe. He is called upon regularly to counsel executives, leadership groups and teams interested in improving the effectiveness and efficiencies of their contact centers. Vince’s two-term stint as president of the Association of Contact Center Professionals (ACCP) further solidified his perch as a proven specialist in advocacy for the customer experience.
Mindsight, a Chicago IT services provider, is an extension of your team. Our culture is built on transparency and trust, and our team is made up of extraordinary people – the kinds of people you would hire. We have one of the largest expert-level engineering teams delivering the full spectrum of IT services and solutions, from cloud to infrastructure, collaboration to contact center. Our customers rely on our thought leadership, responsiveness, and dedication to solving their toughest technology challenges.