Contact center innovation in the “age of the customer”
The contact center industry is undergoing massive change and upheaval. It’s evolving to deliver omni-channel experiences, and to cater to the needs and desires of today’s ever-demanding customers. Innovations in Artificial Intelligence (AI), cloud technology, data analytics and automation are some of the primary reasons for the seismic shifts.
As I reflect on these and other monumental changes in the industry, I’m also undergoing massive change and upheaval on the home front: moving residence interstate. If change can teach us anything, it’s that humans are always continually striving to evolve, to adapt and to master new horizons – and we’re definitely hard wired to connect.
It’s a story 50 years in the making. The birth of the original call centers – now referred to as “contact centers” – was all about doing one thing, a million times. It was a repetitive service that largely received or transmitted a large volume of inquiries by telephone – and did the same highly scripted thing over and over again.
But that simple, linear scenario no longer meets the standard in the “age of the customer.” In fact, doing one thing a million times is simply not good enough. Instead, contact centers today need to do a million things, one time – acting as an exception management center – and need to deliver omni-channel experiences.
Certainly, the contact center world has changed remarkably in 50 years – and it’s a good thing considering today’s consumers expect seamless customer experiences. For starters, customers expect a low-touch, low-effort customer experience – one that instantly solves their problems – and is done with ease, speed and efficiency.
Personalization is king
In essence, customers want a Tesla or Uber-like experience, each and every time, and demand businesses offer this type of exceptional service, and take a page out of the digital disruptors’ playbook. These category-defining companies are setting customer experience standards and transforming industries, business models and customer expectations.
Fortunately, technology advancements on the contact center front – in large part driven by innovations in AI, cloud technology, data analytics and automation – are here and reshaping the market.
The all-new cloud-native Webex Contact Center platform is already delivering on these expectations – and offering enhanced capabilities – that focus on the three essentials of customer service: (1) ease, (2) effort and (3) emotion (delivering strong emotional ties with customers).
Indeed, innovation is sweeping the contact center world – and fuelling a resurgence – and in hot demand by a burgeoning hybrid workforce. This surge in demand is pressing businesses to re-evaluate their current customer experience (CX) platforms – with analysts telling us the majority are looking to adopt a modern cloud-based service.
The Frost Radar predicts that the revenue for the global cloud contact center market will reach US$7.4 billion by 20261. Additionally, a recent Ecosystm2 survey estimates 57% of APAC companies are looking to migrate their mission-critical contact center solutions to the cloud.
What’s more, businesses are discovering the benefits of having a “digital goalie” – and utilize the power of a contact center solution – in order to cater to customers, and protect vital customer relationships.
Make contact centers the goalkeeper
Consider this: Instead of the contact center being the first place that consumers engage with an organization, it’s now the last. And since it’s the last stop, it becomes the “goalkeeper” of the business. Let’s face it: If the consumer gets past the contact center, there’s no one left to save that consumer relationship – a sad state given the importance of customer experience to the survival of any business.
As a result, contact centers today are under enormous pressure to be the place where transactions, interactions and customer relationships are fixed, saved and accommodated; because, quite simply, there’s nowhere left to go.
Innovation fosters personalized customer experience
In that vein, businesses must be prepared to engage with their customers in more ways, and not less, and in a multi-channel approach across phone, email, social media, intelligent chatbots and self-service. They need more intelligent ways of interacting with customers – and must be quick, given the perpetual rise of new communication channels each and every day.
The all-new Webex Contact Center platform is bolstering customer engagement and offering more intelligent ways to interact with customers across all touchpoints. First made available in the US in December 2020, Webex is continuing its global customer experience platform feature expansion with its latest launch in Australia and New Zealand this month.
For Webex, the mission is to make interacting with an organization as easy as messaging a friend – personalizing customer experience and fostering meaningful customer interactions that leave a strong emotional connection.
But contact centers haven’t been the place, historically, with that kind of interaction or where that sentiment has occurred. Rather, contact centers are built on efficiency, managing costs, and historically, most consumers don’t leave a contact center engagement with this “high emotional connection” such that they will tell their friends.
What’s more, customer experience is largely broken: There are no proactive reach-outs by businesses, forcing customers to initiate the call and ensure long wait times. Consumers must continually authenticate themselves, prove who they are, and then repeat themselves and re-establish their relationship with the organization; and typically wait for a solution and then still leave unsatisfied.
At the same time, the industry suffers from complex communication integration; orchestration issues that manifest in poor customer experience; no single point of orchestration between channels; fragmentation of channels and customer journeys; and lack of inbound/outbound control and scale.
But times are changing: Webex’s advanced cloud-based customer experience solutions are providing contact centers the tools they need to declutter this complexity by providing easier ways to orchestrate interactions.
Better still, there’s industry-wide recognition that the contact center can’t be an island – businesses need contact center software, but also connected messaging and unified communications software to empower agents to reach out to the rest of the business.
Webex is already at the forefront of this integration trend – and we can expect to see countless unified communications and contact center companies partnering to create these types of combined solutions.
Customer experience re-imagined
So, what’s the engine driving these enhanced interactions and providing a “connected customer journey”?
It’s all about the front office and the back office working together on behalf of the consumer- enabling a situation where “service and experience seeks the consumer”, and not the other way around.
It’s a world that integrates employee experience (EX) on the front end, with customer experience (CX) capability on the back end – a cloud platform working in synergy to enable the entire organization to work on behalf of the customer.
Notably, these integrated tools give the agent context, eliminating the need to interrogate the customer about the relationship with the organization; and to successfully solve their problem the first time.
Through a number of customer-centric capabilities – including providing data throughout the journey; understanding how consumers feel at every touchpoint; orchestrating workflows across all channels; digital automation; and augmenting the contact center with virtual and AI smarts – Webex Contact Center is able to empower contact center agents to become “super agents” and to be as good as “the best” contact center agents around the world.
Undoubtedly, these and other go-to-market capabilities that enable business agility and celebrate innovation, signal a new way forward for the contact center industry.
If the 50-year history of the call center has taught us anything at all, it’s that today is an extraordinarily exciting time for the industry – as the traditionally one-dimensional world with a mediocre customer experience record can now transform to provide superior connected and contextual customer journeys through the power of employee experience and customer experience technology.
To discuss how Webex can bring these customer experience innovations to your contact center, click here .
- Frost Radar™: North American Enterprise Cloud Contact Center Market, 2021
- “Transforming Customer Experience to Stay Relevant” Whitepaper, Ecosystm, 2020
Webex Contact Center [Website]
Webex Contact Center [Recorded Webinar]