In 2018 it was predicted that voice would soon be dead, and robots would terminate the call centre workforce. Not only did these predictions not come true, but they also didn’t encompass the importance of the customer, and what experience they actually want; after all, we live in a consumer driven economy. With this in mind, Peter Tetlow, client solutions director, Ventrica, outlines 10 top trends for contact centres and the customer experience (CX) in 2019.
Get the foundations right before branching out
With emerging technology such as artificial Intelligence (AI), chatbots and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) quite often viewed as priority for competitive advantage, these additions rarely meet the hype. Until organisations are aware of the service customers demand, and have the basic CRM or data management capability, they aren’t quite ready to join the bandwagon. Without these foundations, companies won’t be able to reap the full benefits; in fact, poor implementation could harm both their organisation and CX. Therefore, we will see organisations heading back to the basics before branching out to the new and unfamiliar.
Innovating for the CX and not focusing on metrics
It’s been a long time coming, but contact centres are finally realising that an over reliance on average handle time is damaging customer satisfaction. As a result, more and more brands are moving away from the efficiencies of metrics and placing their focus on the CX. This year, we will see fewer organisations clinging onto the past, and instead placing a greater focus on CSAT, NPS or customer effort rather than AHT. If, and when, they do, customers will feel the benefit.
More people want to chat online
With the ease of online chat, and it’s integral growth in consumer life, live chat is becoming the latest ‘must have’ for businesses. As a proactive platform which eliminates phone holding times and slow email responses, customer service has been made easily accessible for consumers using these messaging apps daily. As well as helping them stay productive; these communication platforms also provide customers a reference of their conversation and will therefore grow in popularity.
Natural language bots are on the rise
Although, for many, this won’t be their first point of call for technology innovation, natural language bots are on the rise in 2019. The capability to predict what a consumer may want purely through voice, offers contact centre countless automation functions, and will therefore continue to gain traction from organisations. By taking on simple queries, conversational AI will create reduced waiting times, costs, and work around the clock, offering competent, efficient assistance before human agents steps in.
- Coaching will extend beyond human advisors
Bots will also require training to refine and enhance their skills, the same way that human advisors do. Customer expectations and processes are both constantly changing and growing, and therefore bots need to be trained to respond and adapt to these needs. As a result, we will see the rise of ‘Bot Coaches’ within the contact centre space.
Data management will be central
Data management is becoming an issue in its own right, not just because of GDPR, but a result of increased automation across a number of channels. With data becoming more complex, companies are still under pressure to keep up with customers’ expectations of how technology should be used to meet their needs, as well as predict their behaviour. Due to this, we will begin to see more of a focus on data management within organisations, keeping compliance and privacy in mind.
Omnichannel won’t be number one this year
Over the past few years omnichannel has remained a large focal point in the contact centre predictions catalogue. However, these predictions have always failed to take into account that advising customers to use convenient channels, which may not be offering the top customer service, is not effective. Organisations should not be focusing on providing service across every customer channel, but instead, the right ones. This year, brands that realise the importance of CX when driving the channels forward, and not the other way around, will see CX success.
Digital or non-digital CX?
This question, which has been asked year on year, is one that should in fact not be posed. Digital and non-digital CX don’t work apart, they work in unison. Companies think as long as their digital strategy keeps up with technology demands such as chat bots, that’s all that matters. However, customers don’t care which route is taken, as long as they are getting a good, swift customer service. An organisation’s CX strategy should therefore be all about the customer.
CX becomes part of brand image
With both brand image and the customer focus paramount to an organisation’s success, it is surprising that brand image has rarely been transferred to the CX. But we predict that this year will see brands recognising this gap, and making a conscious effort to embed CX into their brand image strategy and promise.
CX and analytics will go hand-in-hand
Analytics offer the ability to predict future customer behaviour and are therefore central to the way that contact centres function. Brands don’t want basic insight from customer data, and customers want a more personalised service. As more voice and text analytics begin to be adopted, this will change, and those already ahead of the analytics mark, will move forward towards machine learning and predictive analytics. Focusing on the customer journey will help both with the adoption of analytics, and will optimise the end-to-end customer experience.
The next twelve months
Although we can’t be sure what the future holds for CX, the path is clear for these predictions to come true this year. It is apparent that CX will give brands and contact centres the opportunity to collaborate widely and grow in influence, but it will be interesting to see how the industry reacts and adapts to changes, and what part customers will play along the way.