After a tricky couple of years, now is the time for businesses to – first and foremost – commend their customer service superheroes.
Yet, National Customer Service Week is also an excellent time to reflect. What has the contact centre team done to maximize customer, employee, and business outcomes?
Operations must learn from the good – alongside the bad and the ugly.
Of course, it is difficult to confront the latter. However, revaluation leads to vital lessons.
In this spirit, here are five critical areas for contact centres to rethink. Doing so may deliver much more seamless and compelling service experiences.
Reconsider Agent Support Systems
Happy, engaged agents are the cornerstone of customer service success. However, handling emotive, complex contacts – day-in and day-out – is tricky, and the unfortunate reality is that the challenge grows greater all the time.
RingCentral’s most recent research, the 2022 agent experience trends report, paints such a disheartening picture while isolating three particularly troubling trends.
The first is increasing agent workloads. Gartner research backs this up, highlighting a general incline in contact volumes throughout the industry. Meanwhile, an SQM Group study also reveals that average handling time has increased from 545 to 589 seconds since 2019 – across all sectors.
Other causes for concern include widespread agent difficulties with contact centre software and an overall lack of managerial support.
In light of this research, Blair Pleasant, President & Principal Analyst at COMMfusion, said:
“Don’t go back to the old way of doing things once the pandemic is over… Make sure you take care of your agents and give them the tools they need to not only be effective and productive but also engaged and empowered.”
Of course, this is critical. However, an agent experience audit is perhaps the best first step. Engage with agents, find out the extent of these issues, and identify others unique to the operation before taking more targeted action.
Re-Examine the Digital Channel Mix
As messaging apps, including WhatsApp and Messenger, come to the fore – alongside new social media platforms and, for some, the metaverse – re-examining the digital channel mix is crucial to keep up with competitors.
However, implementing a new channel is not always the CX win many contact centres anticipate. It often increases demand, opening the business up to a new customer demographic and increasing strain on the contact centre.
Of course, this is excellent for customer engagement, and with savvy channel implementation, the chance also exists to enhance business results and agent experiences.
Yet, contact centres must have the necessary flex to facilitate new channel deployments.
Louise Newbury-Smith, UK Country Manager at RingCentral, also notes several other critical considerations for considering a new channel:
“Consider: what are our goals for the new channel? How will customers access the channel? Can we add voice to simplify channel shift? Can we see if the customer viewed the last interaction? How will we store records of the conversation? And the list goes on.”
Contact centres can enhance their chances of success in their channel implementations by evaluating these considerations with the guidance of a vendor with expert consultation services.
Reexplore the Potential of Conversational AI
Conversational AI is a fast-growing field. Gartner predicts that bots will automate six times more customer conversations in 2026 than it does today.
However, it is not a market without its faults. The analyst also reveals that deployment complexity and a fragmented vendor landscape remain thorns in its side.
Recognizing these, many customer service teams have remained coy, avoiding the lure of the technology and opting to prioritize human-to-human interaction.
Nevertheless, the lure intensifies in these times of increasing agent workloads and increasingly impatient customers. As such, many are exploring the possibility of “low-hanging fruit” deployments, according to Newbury-Smith. She says:
“With conversational AI, it is easy to become enamoured and consider the many possibilities instead of taking a logical approach that targets the low-hanging fruit. This includes those simple, transactional queries that represent a significant chunk of a contact centre’s demand.”
According to Smith, working with an analytics vendor, like RingCentral, to accurately capture and analyse demand is an excellent first step – identifying where bots will add the most value.
Review Proactive Customer Support
Proactive customer support initiatives promise to lower customer effort, streamline journeys, and – in a time when cutting costs is a critical initiative for many – reduce contacts.
Yet, is it such an easy contact centre win? Not according to Gartner. In many cases, contact centres have a hard time reaping these rewards.
Indeed, the analyst reveals that two-thirds of customers have contacted customer service in response to a proactive alert, asking for further information or confirmation.
Luckily, Newbury-Smith has some excellent advice for avoiding this proactivity pitfall. She said:
“Businesses must capture and analyse their demand drivers to understand what matters most. After all, customers place much more value on proactive outreach regarding urgent issues.
“Then, map out the customer experience and assess when the alert – and across which channel – is best placed. Doing so will help create effective triggers for proactive messaging.”
By considering such advice, operations can significantly enhance their approach, with businesses recording an average rise of nine percent in their customer value enhancement scores.
Rethink the Role of the Contact Centre in CX
Numerous studies have emphasised the value of customer experience. For instance, Forrester found that experience-driven businesses outperformed their counterparts by 1.4x in revenue growth, 1.7x in customer retention, and 1.6x in customer lifetime value.
Taking note of such findings, many companies have aimed to force a CX-focused mindset shift across the organization. Indeed, many service managers have become customer experience managers. Yet, what does this transition mean in terms of the day-to-day nitty-gritty work?
Unfortunately, changes in job titles often come with little guidance, leaving managers to continue their everyday firefighting without aligning the service operation with broader CX goals.
So, what can they do practically – other than offering the best support possible – to chip in and drive customer experience forwards? According to Newbury-Smith:
“Contact centres offer a source of incredible customer insight, which they can proliferate across the business to kickstart CX improvement initiatives and customer-centric decision making. A UC integration – which breaks down organizational siloes is helpful here.”
Moreover, operations can lead the digital transformation charge through channel innovation, manage more of the technology infrastructure, and balance AI with human support to push customer experience forward.
Transform Customer Service with RingCentral
With many CCaaS tools and expert consultants, RingCentral supports many service operations in maximising customer, agent, and business outcomes through innovative transformation.
Its open platform accelerates service innovation with seamless Salesforce, Microsoft Teams, and Google AI integrations – alongside hundreds of others.
To discover more about how RingCentral can drive value inside and beyond the boundaries of the contact centre, visit: www.ringcentral.com