By: Steve McKinney On: April 16, 2013 In: Contact Center Comments: 0

By 2020, the customer will manage 85% of the relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human. (Source –Gartner).

Who hasn’t heard the term “look where you’re going”, usually referring to someone who isn’t paying attention. In the case of 2020, and Gartner’s prediction, the phrase takes a different meaning; you need to look where you’re going with customer interactions.

I recently decided to add a premium channel through my well known cable provider. While I was on their website looking for a support number, I received a “Pop Chat” (also known as Pro-active chat) from a contact center agent. Proactive chat is nothing new in the industry, but is quickly becoming the new normal. Fast forward a few years and the “just text me” generation will soon make up a majority of your customer base. That experience started getting my mind thinking about the increasing importance of customer experience and what contact center technology trends were on the horizon.

What is your organization doing today to be ready to serve this next generation? Here are some of the building blocks that will lay the foundation to meet the customers of tomorrow.

7 things you can do today to prepare your contact center for 2020:

1) Assemble the Team (if you haven’t already) – Create cross-functional customer experience teams within your organization that focuses on the overall customer web experience

  • Executive sponsorship: If you don’t have an executive with a customer experience vision backing this up, forget about it.
  • Empowered: It’s all fun and games unless this group can actually change the way your organization interacts with your customers. This team has to be empowered to change the way you do business… not an easy thing to accomplish.
  • Accountable: This group should be measured to the same extent as your contact center agents. What organizational metrics are they going to impact? Is their goal to improve your overall CSAT score, Net Promoter score, time to resolution, etc.? How much? How Soon? What gets measured gets improved.

2) Build out your Knowledge Base (KB) – Create or augment customer/agent accessible knowledge. Your knowledge should be:

  • Accessible: knowledge should be easy for customers to find on your website, available 24×7, accessible on any device (computer, iPad, or the latest smart phone).
  • Consistent:  knowledge should be consistent across your organization, customers, and communication channels (phone, email, chat, Twitter, etc.). If a person calls your contact center, tweets your organization, or searches the KB, the answers they receive should always be the same.
  • Knowledge, like your 1966 Nova, gets old. Be sure to build your business processes and escalations to ensure that your KB doesn’t go stale. *Someone in your organization should own it.

3) Incorporate Social Channels into your service model – (In case you were wondering, providing customer service through social channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) should be owned by the contact center.

  • Trained: Be sure to train your people. Social support is fundamentally different than traditional support channels like the phone. 1) Each social platform has its own vernacular, code of ethics, etc. 2) you aren’t speaking to one person, you are potentially speaking to thousands. Be sure to set your people up for success.
  • Committed: You can just dabble in a social channel. If you choose to add a social channel, be ready to commit the resources to support it. There is nothing worse than receiving a tweet and never responding.
  • Measured: Be sure to measure your social channels with the same rigor as you do phone calls and emails. You may have to get creative here because the industry is still trying to figure it out… first tweet resolution is a must have.

4) Contextual Experience – Look for ways to provide contextual information to your contact center agents at the point of interaction – Contextualizing information is an exciting area that is impacting customer satisfaction. For example, if a customer contacts you after researching your online knowledgebase, providing information on which knowledge articles the customer viewed before submitting the question can not only improve resolution time, but empower the agent to deliver a better experience. Here is another example, if a customer is calling for a password reset, don’t make the agent sort through 10 programs and 15 screens to solve the customer’s issue, give the call center agent just the tools they need for that interaction. This is a growing area, and with more information than ever available to provide context, the impact is only going to increase

  • Analyze & Map business processes from the customer’s and agent’s perspective
  • Define what data points will provide meaningful interaction context (account history, call disposition, historical customer satisfaction, geo location, buying persona, monetary value, etc.)
  • Incorporate contextual information into the agent’s workflow

5) Mobility – mobility is one of the hottest areas of contact center innovation and with good reason. There are precious few things that are with us from the second we get up in the morning until the moment we go to bed. It’s with us nearly every moment. And, the crazy thing about it is the fact that your customer could contact you via phone, social, SMS, IM, mobile application, website, video, community directly through the palm of their hand. And what’s even crazier, they expect you to have a complete view of when and why they contact you for every one of those channels

  • List all of your mobile applications, websites, etc. that have been developed or are currently in process.
  • Identify where and how it makes sense for your customers to interact with your customer service department through your mobile platforms… in a way that is meaningful and valuable to them (mobile call backs, knowledgebase, IM, etc.)
  • Remember – in all aspects, make sure you let the customer be in control of their mobile experience. Don’t abuse it. Let them decide when they would like you to call them back, when and how their phone will alert them, etc.

6) Process Automation – Refining your business processes takes time and effort, but the contact center technology available today can dramatically improve customer experience and lower support costs.

  • Uncover processes that are highly manual, repetitive, that span multiple departments, and are based on defined steps. These are great targets for process automation
  • Start Small – don’t turn this into an ERP implementation. Pick off the low hanging fruit, make mistakes, and improve quickly. You’ll be amazed how much progress you make.
  • You’ll never be done – process improvement never ends. Keep on innovating.

7) Big Data – Analytics is growing up. We are making the shift from historical to predictive. Start wrapping your arms around your data – there is more than ever before. And, with emerging technologies such as speech analytics and sentiment analysis, the sheer volume of data is growing exponentially.

Customer Experience is no longer a priority, it is “the priority”!