“Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable” – William Pollard, physicist and author
The customer care world is in dire need of an upgrade. Cost pressures, customer expectations and the explosion of channels for interaction are on track to disrupt the delivery model as we know it.
At this moment, every leader has a decision to make: Either stay the course with the existing model, placing bandages on efficiencies and demands, or begin the journey down a more sustainable, value-generating path. The next generation of customer care is here.
This is an exciting, yet challenging time for an industry focused on answering and responding to customer needs. The market has been changing from a single channel, voice-centric model focused on cost, to an omni-channel world that dedicated instead to improving the customer experience.
Let’s look at some statistics. In our recent worldwide survey, forty-two percent of respondents said that the call center will cease to exist by 2025. Yet, it is still the preferred channel for 25 percent of people worldwide, and 31 percent in the United States. In addition, thirty-six percent of call center volumes are a direct result of digital channels failing to provide answers. These are huge hurdles to overcome, but they are not impossible as the incentive to get automation right grows larger.
Customers want an easy, straightforward option that provides answers quickly. Organizations want to minimize their costs while keeping their customers happy. Call centers are not going away. But, as technology comes online to transform the experience, the volume of calls will decline. With virtual agents handling routine queries, and automated systems streamlining complex tasks, the call center will evolve into something else.
No, the sky isn’t falling. All of this technology won’t mean the end of the customer service agent. Instead, it will mean the emergence of a new breed of “super agent” who can find answers faster, keep customers happier and add value at every turn. Super agents will increase customer retention rates, saving the organization big money by preventing costly customer churn. In addition, these agents will be essential to the machine learning process, as they will teach the machines. This will create a consistent and repeatable experience for the automated systems to deliver.
The next generation of customer care will see better results for everyone. But, how do we get there? I have summarized the four stages of transformation below:
Operate – Build the Foundation
This is the cornerstone of the traditional customer care model and has served the market well. The main goal is to achieve higher customer satisfaction and meet service level agreements at minimum cost — focusing on the basics without much differentiation.
Analyze – Get closer to your customer
Analytics allow us to spot patterns, and to understand and even predict customer behavior. These valuable insights, gathered from chat, email, social media and voice conversations, help organizations connect better to the voice of the customer and improve their experience. Predictive analytics can also show how receptive customers will be to interactions with your company.
Augment – Power your people
Smart machines help make smarter agents. This technology can be utilized to reduce training times and speed proficiency and agent performance. These optimized resources, with all of the customer information, are at the agents’ fingertips to provide shorter call times and higher satisfaction scores. This also provides adaptable scripts, real-time decision-making and customized workflow, based on industry best practices. Agents find answers faster, make better decisions and stay motivated.
Automate – Work smarter
Although automation seems like a ready-made solution, in truth, the current generation of self-service tools tend to lag behind. The real need is to deploy automated systems that listen, learn and improve. Machine learning and natural language processing make it possible. As I have written about in the past, tools like our Virtual Agent can mimic human interaction and provide faster, better answers in real time. The machine learning process can follow human interactions step by step, to create a consistent and repeatable experience for the automated systems to deliver.
Xerox Automation Services allow us to deliver improved productivity, quality and reduced costs to your operations while allowing your staff to focus on higher value business processes.
Automation does not mean a generic customer experience. No, instead customers will receive a more personalized experience through machine learning and analytics. The next generation of customer care will provide a channel-agnostic, 360-degree view of each customer. Through automation, we are able to balance data protection and personalization to predict future actions seamlessly, across all channels.
Innovation. Technology. Analytics. Agents. Automation is changing the way all organizations interact with customers, reducing costs and delivering a highly personalized experience. I was recently honored to be one of the keynote speakers at the interactions conference, hosted by the NICE User Group (NUG) on the topic of Next Generation Customer Care. There, I addressed not only the need for a transformation of Customer Care but also presented the way forward.
In the not-so-distant future, customer care is ubiquitous: embedded in everyday products such as our smartphones and cars. Most will be automated, with virtual agents engaging in meaningful conversations with customers. Through this automated solution, we will learn from every customer interaction, through every channel. Plus, analytics will allow deeply personalized interactions that will deliver great customer satisfaction.
It’s time to raise the bar of customer care to the next level — to reboot the old system with a new, innovative solution that aligns with the needs and expectations of today’s consumer. Automation and analytics are the keys to Next Generation Customer Care.
Watch a replay of a recent webinar: How Automation and Analytics are Changing the World of Customer Care.