Why is digital transformation important
in the Contact Centre?

Due to the changing demographic, proliferation of smart devices, social media, countless private messaging applications and enhanced online experiences, customers are always looking for smarter and easier ways to communicate and collaborate with organisations they buy or take services from.

A current trend being widely observed across the market is the concept of “channel shift”. The trend primarily indicates a steady decline in the volume of interactions delivered through traditional telephony channels in favour of digital interactions.

In a similar fashion to those traditional organisations which decided not to build online eCommerce offerings, organisations that do not consider digital transformation in the contact centre could find their customer acquisition and retention rates steadily decline over the coming years. Furthermore, disruptive “digital only” organisations could rapidly influence and impact the market to a point where “digital” becomes the channel of choice.

What are the key digital capabilities
for the Contact Centre?

Many of the digital capabilities available in the contact centre fall under the broad heading of Omni-Channel. Omni-Channel is an approach that seeks to create a seamless customer experience, whether it is online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone, or in a bricks-and-mortar outlet.

The four key digital capabilities of this omni-channel approach are as follows:

Social Media Integration – Historically organisations would focus on social media as a listening tool to passively gather data from the market to learn how trends and preferences were changing moment-to-moment. However, over recent years the capability to tap into and serve customers more effectively using social channels has been significantly developed to a point where social media can now be a sales or customer service channel in its own right.

Chatbot - A chatbot is a piece of artificial intelligence (AI) software that can simulate a conversation (or a chat) with a user in natural language through messaging applications, websites, mobile apps or through the telephone. Chatbot applications streamline interactions between people and services, enhancing customer experience. At the same time, they offer organisations new opportunities to improve the customer engagement process and operational efficiency by reducing the typical costs of customer service.

Machine Learning – The interaction between an organisation’s representatives and its customers is a crucial area for customer success. A typical contact centre receives thousands of calls, emails, webchats etc. every day. To help correlate, analyse, produce real-time business insights, and dynamic business processes, organisations are implementing machine learning solutions to automate and orchestrate their contact centre operations.

One use case for machine learning is to reduce call volumes by eliminating the need for customers to call at all. An example of this could be a network fault for a telecommunications company. By analysing voice / speech patterns, emotions and words from incoming calls, machine learning can identify:

  1. that there is an issue (anger or irritation based on tone of voice)
  2. what the issue might be (“slow line speed” or “no reception”)
  3. where it might be (based on the caller’s location)

By analysing an influx of calls and identifying these types of patterns, machine learning could kick off a notification to technical support to notify them of the issue, and enable the contact centre to send out a pre-emptive SMS to subscribers in the affected area, or post a message on Twitter / Facebook to let them know that they are aware of the issue and are working on having it resolved.

Personalised experiences – Treating a customer as a person and not a number is increasingly becoming a key success criterion for many contact centre operations. Key to being successful in this space is being able to capture and correlate data across all channels and use that data to enhance the customer experience. One of the biggest challenges for organisations is bringing together offline and online data to deliver the omni-channel experience. Both a collaborative process and a capable data management platform is required to ensure data can be captured, stored and accessed securely and consistently by the contact centre operation.

What are the benefits of digital transformation
in the Contact Centre?

The benefits of enabling a digital engagement capability in the contact centre are increasingly becoming clear.

From a customer perspective, being able to contact and collaborate with organisations using the customer’s channel of choice significantly increases customer satisfaction, loyalty and retention. Providing the ability to self-serve simple tasks through chatbot or natural language IVR means less frustration sitting in queues waiting for an agent to become available.

From an organisation’s perspective, a whole plethora of new business acquisition opportunities exist, from the ability to tap into a new demographic through to acquiring market share from a competitor. However, possibly the biggest benefit for organisations is addressing the increasing risk of becoming inaccessible. Adopting digital transformation in the contact centre will enable organisations to remain accessible in times of significant technological and customer behavioural change.

What are the key strategic considerations when developing a digital transformation
strategy for the Contact Centre?

First and foremost, the customer should be at the heart of an organisation’s digital transformation strategy. Customer experience strategies should be developed to feed into an organisation’s digital requirements and transformation initiatives.

Three other key areas for consideration are as follows:

Platform – Although traditional contact centre telephony platforms can be enhanced to deliver digital capabilities, many platforms lack the agility and flexibility organisations require. For example, adding social integration and chatbot capabilities to a traditional on-premise PBX and contact centre platform would require significant hardware, software and professional services to design, deploy and develop. Given that these digital capabilities are likely to represent a small percentage of customer interactions during the early days, many organisations are unable to justify the business case. Therefore, the preferred route for many organisations is to consider cloud-based CCaaS platforms and/or applications. These platforms generally offer native multi-channel contact centre capabilities or support multiple integration methods to existing on-premise infrastructures. Typically, these CCaaS solutions are offered on a subscription-based service making them far more flexible than traditional on-premise models.

Integration – Whether the contact centre platform is on-premise or hosted in the cloud, integration with key data management platforms such as CRM, third party services such as secure card payment gateways, or public-facing AI platforms such as Amazon Lex or Google AI, play a very important role in delivering an omni-channel experience to customers. Although some integrations can appear simple, careful consideration is required to understand any hidden complexities or costs that may be required to configure, develop and secure integration between platforms.

Commercials – With CCaaS being the preferred route for many organisations to offer new digital channels, the commercial outlay associated with the contact centre platform is likely to shift from one-off capital expenditure to recurring operational expenditure. Although this shift may suit some organisations, careful analysis and commercial forecasting should be carried out to understand the TCO over a multi-year period as it is very possible costs over a longer term could increase. One approach to ensure costs are managed during the digital transformation phase is to ensure a high level of flexibility is built into CCaaS contracts to allow channel shift to occur without incurring any commercial penalties.

Summary and Conclusion

Each organisation’s approach to digital transformation will be different. When planning for digital transformation in the contact centre, organisations should do so through the lens of their customer to ensure they offer a “channel of choice” approach to communicate with them in the right way.

While they may start in one channel, customers will move to another, and it’s the job of the digital transformation strategy to design these transitions to be as intuitive as possible.

It also very important to anticipate a continued increase in the use of new technologies, such as data management platforms, that allow organisations to identify their customers across all touchpoints, learning more information with every connection and personalising the interaction to meet their needs.

To conclude, the trend TNC is currently observing across most contact centre operations points to an increasing demand for digital engagement capabilities. Organisations which decide to ignore this trend could risk losing existing customers and the ability to acquire new customers due to inaccessibility.

Disclaimer

Other than matters relating to The Network Collective, this research is based on current public information that we consider reliable. Opinions expressed may change without notice and may differ from views set out in other documents created by The Network Collective. The above information is provided for informational purposes only and without any obligation, whether contractual or otherwise. No warranty or representation is made as to the correctness, completeness and accuracy of the information given or the assessments made.

This research does not constitute a personal recommendation or take into account the particular investment objectives, financial situations, or needs of individual clients. Clients should consider whether any advice or recommendation in this research is suitable for their particular circumstances and, if appropriate, seek professional advice.

No part of this material may be (i) copied, photocopied or duplicated in any form by any means or (ii) redistributed without the prior written consent of The Network Collective Limited © 2019

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