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dont dis digital channelsThe authoritative 2016 Dimension Data Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report highlights that 82.5% of surveyed organizations recognize – at an executive level – that Customer Experience (Cx) is unquestionably a key differentiator and the driving force powering digital transformation strategies and implementations. The report also details the top twelve technology trends in the customer service and contact center sector. The table makes fascinating reading. Note that ‘Migration of traffic from voice to digital channels’ is ranked third overall in terms of boardroom priorities.

Ranking 2015 2016
Omnichannel (frictionless movement between channels) 2 1
Technology Consolidation / Integration 2 2
Migration of traffic from voice to digital 1 3
Analytics (incl. big data) Not asked 4
High Service Availability / Business Continuity  7 5
System and data security 8 6
Alternative technology models (hosted, cloud, pay-as-you-go etc.) 5 7
Proactive outbound Not asked 8
Other 11 9
Voice biometrics 10 10
Video communications 9 11
Sentiment / emotion technologies Not asked 12

It’s a given that virtually all contact center operators are facing the realities of rapidly escalating costs and declining productivity, whilst simultaneously wrestling with the challenges of retaining existing customers, winning new customers and maximizing revenues. The entire ecosystem of customer service is evolving at a staggering pace. New channels and platforms are proliferating and customer expectations and demands for always-on, 7 x 24 information and response services are putting even the most agile and well-resourced organizations to the test.

There is no doubt that the rapidly maturing millennial generation is stimulating a global messaging revolution that is impacting across all geographies and age and socio-economic groups. The reality is that text-based communication has emerged as the most preferred communication method for customer acquisition, post purchase engagement and retention.

Forward-looking organizations need to ensure that their customer engagement strategies firmly embody robust mobile messaging solutions that are appropriate to their customers. Enter the ChatBot and the Virtual Agent.

Consider that potentially, 80% plus of all high-volume, repetitive, or frequently asked questions or enquiries currently being handled in the voice channel by ‘live’ agents, could be just as effectively handled by a well-crafted ChatBot or Virtual Agent solution. In addition to the obvious cost-savings, in most cases, the entire customer experience could be enhanced, leading to significantly improved customer satisfaction ratings.

Emerging as early as 2010, messaging applications coupled with rules-driven process automation entered the industry. These were initially referred to as ‘conversational interface platforms’. With the later introduction of artificial intelligence and machine learning, Chatbots have evolved into a new form of responsive technology. These solutions allow organizations to deploy alternative methods of highly effective, on-demand customer self-service.

Chatbot developments come at a time when reputedly more than two billion smartphone users, familiar with intuitive screen interfaces and text-based mobile messaging are demanding real-time, instant service. ‘Next generation’ Chatbots or Virtual Agents utilizing sophisticated artificial intelligence, computer-generated imagery (CGI) and even voice synthetization is already engaging in intelligent ‘conversations’ with users.

Chatbots forming an integral part of a true omnichannel digital platform play an important role in pivoting expensive voice interactions and driving digital adoption. In addition, the ‘digital footprints’ spawned by users help build unique customer profiles and facilitate the automated routing of current and future voice and digital interactions. The centralized customer journey data accumulated in this manner assists with understanding customers’ sentiment and their intent. Based on this business intelligence the organization can to deliver a vastly improved customer experience whilst simultaneously addressing critical cost-saving issues.

[About the author]Dylon headshot Dylon Mills is the Director of Marketing Content Strategy & Development at Jacada. As such, Dylon’s main responsibilities are to strategize, create and deliver content for Jacada’s product portfolio that align with the global Go-To-Market strategy, corporate positioning, and marketing campaigns. Dylon’s prior work experience includes Product Management at one of the top Fortune 500 Technology companies, Symantec Corporation. Outside of work, Dylon enjoys problem-solving and any project that includes building/tinkering with tools. Dylon holds a BS Consumer Economics from the University of Georgia.

1 Dimension Data’s 2016 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report, © Dimension Data 2013-2016 (table)