Guide to Balancing Customers’ Expectations with Operational Realities

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Yes, your contact center can tackle the latest trends even with limited resources

In 2016, McKinsey & Company predicted that customer demand for higher-end personal experiences would force companies to determine which levels of customized care to provide, and that their choices around technological investments would be critical as managers navigate the proliferation of new solutions with the goal of balancing costs against scalability and implementation speed.

Most contact centers today would agree they were dead-on.

As we navigate the digital transformation of contact centers, the assumption is that these new solutions are complicated and expensive. What’s a contact center with limited bandwidth (time, human resources, cash, or all of the above) to do?

Let’s take a closer look at what we’re considering.

Your Customers’ Expectations
The first half of this equation is your customers’ expectations. Companies today simply can’t go about satisfying customers without knowing exactly what those customers expect, and when, and how. Fortunately, in practice, this may not be as wide a panorama as it first sounds.

Enter one of the latest buzzwords: customer journey mapping. Rather than assuming what routes their customers are taking to their virtual door, companies are leveraging the digital transformation to explore what customers are actually doing, visiting, and considering, as well as where they’re getting stuck, hitting a dead end, or just exiting any online process. Having a good customer journey map can:

  • Help managers begin to consider the most effective mix of customer care actions built around the company’s strategic goals
  • Pinpoint the location of the choke points that are most adversely affecting customers
  • Provide a clear picture of your customers’ spectrum of actions, from high value, high complexity (which usually require the attention of a live agent) to lower value, low complexity tasks.
  • In short, this map will uncover your highest priority CX issues – and with that knowledge, you can develop a cost-effective plan to address those priorities.

    Your Operational Realities
    The goal of any contact center today is to provide their customers with the personal touch in a digitally efficient way – and that means you must know your customers, their channel choices, and their wants and needs inside out. You must understand the needs of your agents and the limitations of your current operational processes. Then you must develop a plan for integrating your company’s business goals with both operations and customer satisfaction.

    Common issues in CX are improving the customers’ overall experience, reducing any friction around their experience, coordinating all available channels, and integrating the self-service solutions that are widely accepted as part of any contact center’s future. Start with the issues that are most important to your customers and therefore your business’ future; prioritize the weakest links and the low-hanging fruit by selecting the best solutions to fix these specific issues.

    Common Problems, Prioritized Solutions

    Not enough operational flexibility
    Is your premise contact center providing enough flexibility to maximize your investments in human and technological capital? As many businesses are discovering, moving your center to the cloud opens up countless opportunities for integration. With a pay-as-you-go system, IT costs decrease and reliability improves; scaling up and down is much easier, and it makes having an on-demand, distributed workforce much more realistic. Cloud-based centers are also much easier to integrate with the third-party solutions you’re probably going to need to address some of the following concerns.

    High cost, low return
    As we’ve implied, any operational plan must include strategies for streamlining and maximizing the resources devoted to low-value transactions. Many companies consider digital automation to be the answer; “bots” and virtual assistants can serve as gatekeepers for important channels including chat, voice, and IVR. However, the caveat is that AI requires deep data to function effectively, so your center must have the capability to gather and store the data that will optimize your automated self-service functions.

    Developing good data
    Speaking of data, a common challenge is to fully integrate your CRM so it’s easily accessible by not only your agents, but other departments within your business. Adding speech analytics to your call capabilities can help fill in your customer data with new insights and provide awareness of trends.

    Long hold times
    The number one frustration customers experience is long hold times – and their definition of “long” can be as little as one minute. To reduce their frustration, many contact centers implement a callback solution so customers don’t have to wait on hold. But the top contact centers don’t stop there. They take callback one step further by allowing customers to request a callback through any digital channel. With the future of customer service spanning across many channels, it only makes sense to do the same for your callback solution.

    Disconnect between customers and agents
    Your customers can be literally anywhere and on any channel; but do you have the tools to keep up? Today’s agents are being asked to deal with more complex issues on more channels than ever; they could better connect with your customers through new solutions such as screen sharing, video chat, and mobile messaging. And of course, them having a real-time, uncomplicated view of the queue and each customer’s journey would benefit both your agents and your customers enormously.

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