Dennis Reno, SVP Customer Experience, Cyara, and I recently sat down to discuss the impact that COVID-19 has had on the customer service industry. Because of measures such as social distancing and millions who now work from home, customers have not engaged with retail establishments, healthcare providers, insurance companies, financial institutions, and other consumer-serving businesses in-person, he said. He added this led to an inevitable rise in calls and webchats, continuing, “This caused a massive influx in calls and web-based outreach from customers that overloaded contact centers.” To add fuel to an already burning fire, Reno continued, contact centers had been strained by the millions of remote agents performing contact center duties from home.
For the sake of enterprise-grade continuity, reducing long wait times, and the frustration it led to, companies have had to adopt cutting and bleeding-edge technologies in some cases. Reno stated that there are countless tools that enterprises can use to improve CX noting something key about management within enterprises. He said they should adjust their definition of what CX means, as CX should be viewed as a journey, one that can impact a company’s approach to building ‘the right’ solution for agents and customers. Many such tools are available via the cloud, and we’ve seen a massive uptick in migration to the cloud, too – mainly driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic has shown us that customers are loyal to companies that show how much they value their customers”
Reno also said that solutions like Twilio Flex are great for those who want to reduce wait times. With the use of the solution, enterprises can add AI-supported chatbots and conversational technology into their CX stacks. “There are even automated CX validation tools that can ensure all aspects of customer communications and journeys are functioning,” Reno noted. Testing these experiences will remain key to ensuring they work well for both agents and customers, which is where ducation comes into play, according to Reno, who told me that IT managers must ensure agents understand how to leverage all the systems they have access to for enhancing CX.
Omni-communications also play a central role in CX and a customer’s journey with an organization. Reno said a lot of companies he works with feel that regardless of where a customer is in their journey, they must be routed to a human being when they require it. When that is the case, that agent has to be the right agent for the job, he cautioned. Customers do not want to bounce from agent-to-agent for a simple request. They want to get the right person for their query the first time around, which is why good IVR goes a long way.
“The biggest challenge in this regard is shifting the customer from their original medium of communication – be it email or webchat – or a human being to provide an empathetic human element throughout the customer journey.” Customer service agents across the globe have more challenges than the average person assumes they do, so ensuring they feel valued, empathy, as well as if they have the tools they need will remain paramount in transferring that feeling over to customers as well, Reno told me.