“Digital transformation” is a term we hear about all the time, but what exactly is it? In its basic sense, digital transformation is leveraging digital technologies to automate and enhance business processes and customer experiences in order to meet the demands of evolving customer behavior. Nowhere is the opportunity for digital transformation greater right now than in contact centers.
To emphasize the importance of including the contact center in that effort, Forrester’s Digital Rewrites the Rules of Business Vision Report makes this point: “Digital innovation is the untapped hero of customer service. A service call is an indicator of an unmet expectation. So why does it get so little airplay?” Done well, the digitally transformed contact center will deliver substantial increases in customer satisfaction, brand loyalty, customer lifetime value, revenues, and profits.
Why Digitally Transform the Contact Center
According to New Voice Media’s 2018 “Serial Switchers” report, poor customer service is costing businesses more than $75 billion a year—up 21 percent since its previous report in 2016. The reason cited in the report is “Brands are failing to create the positive, emotional experiences that drive customer loyalty.” The result is that a full two-thirds of customers have become serial switchers, or customers who regularly switch brands because of a poor experience, and their number grew by 37 percent in just two years.
An important driving force behind digital transformations is the smartphone and the way it’s transforming communications itself by changing the way we interact with one another. We no longer simply call each other; instead we text, send videos, photos, and more. And with over 90 percent adoption in most established demographics and geographies, the smartphone has become the default mode of communication.
Being constantly connected makes it easy to learn about or experience new and better ways of doing things. Search engines level playing fields by making it easy for your customers to find your competitors. Social media provides us with a platform to connect with one another and share experiences. Self-help rewards with rapid results. Digital experiences, specifically those leveraging the capabilities and channels of smartphones, can create fast, convenient, informative, and connected experiences. In fact, Microsoft’s 2017 State of Global Customer Service report revealed that more than half (52 percent) of respondents in the U.S. already had a more favorable view of brands that offer a mobile-responsive customer support experience.
Digital transformation is not limited to just the customer experience. It also has significant impacts on the way support agents, supervisors and administrators work by arming them with the right tools to be more productive and resolve issues faster.
Five Steps to Digitally Transforming the Contact Center
The impacts of digital transformation are not only felt within the contact center, but can have a substantial impact on customer loyalty and the overall brand experience. However, the road to digital transformation looks different for each organization. Here are some key factors to consider:
1. Deeply understand your customer preferences, goals, and behaviors. – In order to identify current and emerging technologies that can help transform the customer experience, you must first truly understand your customers and how their preferences, goals, and behaviors are changing. Identify certain teams or roles within your organization that capture data, gather feedback, and interact with your customers in order to build a more robust profile of who they are.
2. Identify all possible customer service use cases and determine the best way to enhance the customer experience for each. – The effort here should be both beginning-to-end and top-to-bottom. Include every possible interaction, from those that might occur during the sale to those regularly experienced in every customer engagement channel. Examples include unpacking, assembly or installation, how-to, troubleshooting, registration, billing, cancellation, returns/exchanges, etc. Break down the customer experience into user journeys, including with other customers, employees, and various stakeholders. What are the channels they are using, and when and where are they interacting with you?
3. Evaluate all your customer support channels for transformational opportunities. – The digital transformation of customer service extends well beyond the contact center to the website, blogs, chatbots, self-service portal, knowledge bases, social media, and more. It’s more important than ever to meet your customers on their channels of choice and deliver a seamless experience by enabling all of your customer contact points to complement one another. Surveying your customers is a good way to reveal what channels they use—or would like to use.
4. Automate the contact center to streamline and enhance customer support experiences. – Cloud-native, data-driven customer service platforms are now able to provide the customer context and intelligent automation needed to improve both customer satisfaction and agent effectiveness. The best, empower your customers to leverage the full potential of their smartphones, such as sending photos, videos, and connecting to agents via the web or in-app. With more channels and more context, customers can be intelligently routed to the right agent the first time in order to further streamline and enhance the experience.
5. Monitor, measure and continue to optimize and transform your contact center operations. – This is an ongoing step and it has two dimensions: optimizing operations in real-time; and pursuing improvements and additional transformations over time. The former involves making strategic adjustments to how the contact center is operating, while the latter involves pursuing additional changes as needs evolve and technology advances.
Getting Started with Your Own Digital Transformation
Digital transformations afford a truly revolutionary opportunity for all businesses to transform how they conduct business. And it’s worth repeating: Nowhere is the potential for revolutionary change greater than in the contact center. Based on their many empowering experiences with their smartphones, customers have come to expect more from their engagements and interactions with brands, and companies that fail to provide a better service experience risk losing some to competitors.
With the availability of purpose-built customer support platforms and cloud-based Contact Center-as-a-Service offerings that now make it easier than ever to digitally transform the contact center, there is no longer a good excuse for postponing the inevitable. The way exists. All you need is the will.