Turning disruption into opportunity
One of today’s major buzzwords is ‘digital disruption’, which sounds scary, but in fact offers many opportunities for contact centers to improve their service levels.
‘Digital disruption’ is a term that seemingly combines hope and fear into one catch-all phrase. After all, ‘digital’ is positive, conjuring images of newer, faster, better and more awesome technology. ‘Disruption’, on the other hand, is inevitably negative in its connotations, bringing to mind thoughts of disturbance or interruption – in fact, the dictionary definition is that of ‘forcible separation’.
While there is no doubt that digital disruption has left many enterprises confused and even a little nervous, it should not be looked at as something to fear. Rather, it can open up some fantastic opportunities for higher levels of customer engagement. Those corporations that step up to the plate will be able to take advantage of the rapidly shifting digital sands, to deliver first-rate experiences that will boost customer loyalty and retention rates.
So how does digital disruption impact upon contact centers? The most obvious way is the rapidly increasing number of channels which customers expect to interact with businesses, including text, email, chat, and the various social media platforms, to name a few. This has led directly to the desire for omnichannel contact centers.
Most notable among the new channels is that of social media. Although this channel can multiply the effects of a bad customer experience – simply due to the audience – it can do the same for good service. More importantly, a new generation of tech-savvy young customers are now entering the market, and for these Millennials, social media is often the communication channel of choice.
Thus, this new channel presents contact centers with easy access to a whole new customer base, while, when used correctly, also enabling them to foster closer, more intimate ties with these consumers.
As an increasing number of customers consider phone-based conversation as little more than a last resort, social media opens up a new method of communication with clients who are increasingly using it for everything from submitting complaints and claims to finding out more about a company’s products or services.
In a similar manner, the rise of mobile applications is another example of disruption that is helping organizations to innovate. Here, it is through the development of their own customer service apps to communicate with users. These should also improve the consumers’ experience, as it will enable them to simply and easily interact with the business whenever they choose.
Big data is a major part of the current digital disruption, and also offers enormous opportunities, thanks to the use of analytics. As customer service becomes a key business differentiator, so the desire to anticipate customers’ needs grows. Contact center analytics offer enterprises the opportunity to bring together information from a wide variety of sources, such as phone calls, surveys, web chat, billing systems and more, with the goal of creating actionable insights.
Analytics can then make the relevant connections around customer preferences that will provide the business with a picture that allows it to anticipate customer needs precisely. And of course, once you can anticipate their needs, you can personalize the offerings you provide to them, which creates increased value for both the business and the consumer.
The new digital world has also erased concepts like normal office hours, and customers today expect 24/7/365 support; they expect to be able to contact the enterprise anytime, anywhere and via any device. Fortunately, disruptive new technologies like robotic process automation and artificial intelligence are enabling chatbots which can provide exactly such a service.
Video chat is another technology that has had a disruptive effect on the contact center because it requires an entirely different range of skills to a standard phone call. Not only does it mean your agents must be smart and presentable, but they need to be able to control their facial expressions while correctly reading those of the customer.
However, despite these challenges, the opportunity presented here is fantastic. As video calls move towards true live support, the face-to-face contact with the client that this ensures presents the contact center with a wonderful chance to establish a much more intimate relationship with each customer – one that can be leveraged to increase loyalty and brand advocacy.
Considering the cost of winning new customers, developing long-term loyalty with customers once you have them is more critical than ever. This means that service teams need to exploit every opportunity, channel and contact point with customers to the fullest extent, in order to continuously build loyalty.
The proliferation of new channels, such as video chat and the aforementioned social media platforms, to name just two, offers these teams a wider variety of touch-points to utilize for this purpose.
Perhaps the biggest disruptive aspect of the rise of digital is not so much the emergence of the new technologies discussed, but rather the shift in customer behavior ¹. Deloitte suggests that the market leaders of tomorrow will not be decided by the amount of technology they deploy, but by how they evolve their whole service operation to respond to the changing customer.
For example, companies need to start proactively reaching out to customers with information, advice and where necessary, forewarnings. This means acting more like a partner than a service provider to customers, by advising them how to make the most out the organization’s services and reduce costs for themselves. These are the kind of high-value services that will differentiate businesses from their competition.
Customers today demand more, so your service teams should not only be focused on answering questions and resolving issues, but should instead be seeking to take things further.
One way of doing this – which is a real opportunity for improved service, and thereby further differentiation – is to build customer communities both in the online and real world. These will not only serve as a self-help network for consumers, but will also help to generate valuable user content and may even provide new product development ideas.
So while digital disruption may seem concerning on the surface, it also offers a wealth of new opportunities: opportunities to build an ongoing dialogue with your customers, opportunities to learn from your customers and opportunities to ultimately increase the relevance of your products and services.
[About the author] 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.