Keeping up with customers isn't easy, especially when the way they prefer to communicate with brands is constantly changing.
Phones and email were once the only means to get in touch, then webchat and social media emerged. Now, virtual assistants such as Alexa, Echo and other smart technology are opening up additional ways for consumers-and devices themselves-to directly ask questions, book repair appointments and receive technical support. However, companies are struggling to adapt to this new reality.
In many cases, technology backed by artificial intelligence and machine learning is helping to manage emerging communication channels. While machines can be a suitable first point of contact, they also make interactions with people more critical to the customer experience. People, particularly contact center agents, are a brand's most effective tool in building brand loyalty-but only if they are available at the right time, on the right channel and have the right information.
To be successful in a connected world, companies must take the omnipresent approach- combining the reach of technology with the personalization of the human touch.
A Connected Ecosystem (with a catch)
According to Zendesk, a whopping 91 Percent of consumers will use an online knowledge database if it meets their needs, and HubSpot cites 40 percent of consumers are fine interacting with a chatbot as long as they get to an answer. While it may be quick and easy for customers to press a button, this connected ecosystem presents two major challenges. First, chatbots are automated and can't always manage unique customer needs. Second, this newfound connectivity will produce an influx of data that brands must be able to store, process and analyze.
In this connected ecosystem, the companies that use consumer interaction insights to inform customer service strategies will succeed at delivering a delightful experience.
The Omnipresent Approach
The omnipresent approach allows brands to be available to customers at all times. According to 123FormBuilder, more than 60% of customers now expect companies to meet all of their needs. And, 90% of customers are willing to spend more when companies provide personalized customer services. The very foundation relies on machines for greater reach, giving customers greater access to brands. According to Juniper Research, chatbots also have the power to save companies $8 billion per year, freeing up capital to invest into people who drive the rest of the customer experience.
Skilled, knowledgeable and available representatives make up the critical second line of service. According to a recent survey conducted by VI.GA Consulting for our company, however, 56 percent of contact center agents say they struggle to meet customer needs, and 60 percent don't believe they have the right technology to properly help customers. NewVoiceMedia research finds businesses lose $62 billion in annual revenue due to a poor customer experience, so ill-prepared agents put companies at risk.
Given that 45 percent of agents surveyed by VI.GA Consulting think that customer expectations are becoming even more complex, now is the time for brands to act. With the right contact center analytics tools, brands can analyze omnichannel customer data and use that information to train and prepare agents.
As analytics technology becomes more advanced via machine learning and artificial intelligence, brands will be able to understand things like sarcasm or false pauses, regardless of where the interaction takes place. For example, if a customer's communication with a chatbot is deemed sarcastic, a rep is better prepared to manage that issue once it's elevated to the contact center. Data from these inquiries can then be analyzed to understand which reps are most effective, evolving training strategies across the organization.
When omnichannel data is used to draw connections between words, intention and action, companies gain important insights into customer behavior. This equips agents to not only handle the complex inquiries, it gives them the tools to provide the personalized, human touch at exactly the right time.
By using technology effectively and placing greater value on the people who talk to customers every single day, companies can successfully move beyond omnichannel to become omnipresent.
About the Author Tom Goodmanson, president and CEO of Calabrio, has more than 20 years of experience leading fast growing dynamic software and technology companies. Since assuming the CEO position in 2009, Tom is credited with reinventing the company and its culture around a strategy to expand value and reach through new, innovative products, and remarkable customer experiences. Addressing the market need for simpler solutions to complex customer interaction challenges, Tom's vision to redefine the standard for software ease-of-use has been instrumental in making Calabrio one of the fastest-growing companies in the industry.