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Top trends for the contact center in 2019 – part 2, effortless & transformative

In Part 1 of this two-part blog, we noted that in 2019 the overarching trend indicates a “back to basics” approach with an emphasis on the ultimate contact center goal of fostering meaningful connections with consumers. We also talked about the various trends and technologies that support more human and personalized customer interactions to build kinship and heighten the experience at every touchpoint. In Part 2, we will cover the “Effortless” and “Transformative” category trends.

Effortless

The term “effortless” refers to both the agent and the customer experience. The quicker and easier it is for agents to provide the right response, the more frictionless it will be for your customers. To accomplish an effortless experience requires technology that will empower agents with a 360-degree view of the customer and quick access to all the product and support information needed to address whatever issue a customer may have.

Here are some of the 2019 trends that can help create an effortless agent experience.

Provide a Unified Agent Desktop
According to Gartner, only 16% of agents today think their desktop tools help them resolve customer queries. That is why it is more important than ever for companies to focus on this need this year. In order to respond efficiently and effectively to customer requests, all necessary customer data, relevant account information and knowledge base articles must be accessible through the agent’s unified desktop. This will decrease handle time and minimize customer frustration. The desktop should also support digital channels such as email, messaging, chat and social. This will help facilitate a connected experience for the customer.

Invest in Self-Service with a Purpose
Ensuring an extraordinary experience with every interaction is the key to nurturing happy and loyal customers. Providing self-service options along with high-touch human interaction can help you get there. But your approach must be purposeful. When done right, customers prefer self-service. They would rather solve a problem themselves as long as it can be done quickly and they don’t run into snags along the way. A recent report indicated that 59% of consumers said that self-service availability affects brand loyalty.

Self-service tools include FAQs, virtual assistants, and chatbots and video tutorials. These tools allow customers to perform simple tasks without the aid of an agent. Customers’ needs are met with little effort. Benefits to the business include deflecting potential support tickets and lightening agents’ workload. The best way to decide what self-service options your customers want is to ask them.

Focus on Improving Your Knowledge Base
Both contact center agents and customers benefit from a great customer service knowledge base. For agents, a more intuitive, powerful knowledge base requires minimal time and effort to gain the most up-to-date and accurate documentation to answer customer questions. Customers benefit because their issue is resolved quickly and consistently, and their interaction with the agent and overall experience with your brand is positive. Improving knowledge base content, accessibility and searchability not only makes agents more efficient, but it also provides a consistent customer experience across channels which builds trust and improves loyalty. In addition to aiding agent interactions, it can also improve self-service options for customers.

Deliver True Omnichannel Experiences
Some contact center service providers have used the terms multi-channel and omnichannel interchangeably. But they are not the same. Regardless of what they claim, not all contact center providers actually offer omnichannel communications. Omer Minkara, VP and Principal Analyst at Aberdeen, says companies use multi-channel to indicate that they use multiple channels to interact with and engage customers. But that does not necessarily mean that they can deliver a seamless message across these channels. Companies that provide true omnichannel communications use multiple channels to engage with customers, but they also provide a consistent and seamless experience and messaging across all the channels and devices used to touch customers.

For those companies that have a renewed focus on maximizing convenience and providing a consistent brand and effortless experience for every customer, the time to deliver true omnichannel communications is nipping at their heels. Customers are quickly becoming intolerant of companies that cannot deliver an omnichannel experience. Research conducted by Aberdeen Group shows that companies that have omnichannel CX programs achieve a 91% higher increase in customer retention compared to those without one.


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Transformative

Digital transformation refers to a fundamental change in how companies use technology, processes, and people to deliver value to customers. It focuses on the integration of automation, analytics, real-time analysis, workflow and reporting across all departments, systems and customer touchpoints.

When systems work together, rather than sit in siloed channels, customer information can be shared instantly among tools so that contact center agents and all other employees can deliver the seamless service levels expected by customers. According to an IDC report, companies are getting serious about digital transformation, citing that 40 percent of technology spending will go toward digital transformation – with a total enterprise spend of nearly $2 trillion by 2022.

Here are some of the transformative technologies and trends for 2019.

Automate Workflows
By using workflow automation technology companies can use software to complete tasks that require little human judgment. These could be tasks that are supervised by humans such as forecasting, customer routing and associating new information or documents with existing CRM accounts. Business process automation (BPA) and robotic process automation (RPA) are included in the category. Not only does automation improve efficiency, but it also improves an agent’s ability to respond quickly to customers.

Move to the Cloud
Cloud contact centers make it easy to interact with customers and access data in all business systems from anywhere that has an internet connection. Some of the benefits of moving to cloud-hosted solutions include: fast deployment, ease of use, accommodation for hypermobility, pay-as-you-go consumption and disaster recovery. Another advantage of the cloud contact center is that it facilitates remote workers, since agents can access the systems they need from home. This opens up the talent pool to those who are not locally based.

Incorporate Journey Mapping and Orchestration
Customer journey mapping is a visual representation of a company’s customer touch points throughout the entire lifecycle. By mapping out the customer journey, organizations can begin to anticipate customer intent and behavior. But journey maps typically represent an ideal customer journey and cannot adapt to an individual’s. Journey Orchestration takes this intelligence and helps agents create meaningful moments of truth by triggering the delivery of the right message to the right customer at the right time. It allows personalization through customizing each customer’s journey across channels. Essentially, journey orchestration ties all customer touchpoints together with all data sources, combines data and machine learning and automates the delivery of best-next actions to every customer every time. Customer journey orchestration is quickly becoming a must-have for customer-centric organizations committed to providing extraordinary experiences.

Conclusion

Contact center trends and technologies that enable and empower agents to deliver superior experiences to customers during every interaction are top priority in 2019. The focus for this year is all about forging kinships with customers by humanizing conversations, making both agent and customer experiences as effortless as possible, and changing the way technology, processes and people are used to deliver value to customers.

Do your 2019 plans align with these priorities? If not, what is your focus for this year?