by Kurt Schroeder and John Seeds
Throughout 2020 there was an accelerated move toward remote contact center operations and at-home agents. Many organizations adopted technology solutions to be able to facilitate the new needs of their consumers, staff and business brought on by the pandemic.
Consumers have grown accustomed to these remote, self-serve channels unlike ever before. As such, your customers’ assessments of your business and brand will be heavily weighted by whether and how you deliver on these capabilities. In 2021, it will be essential that businesses innovate to continue delivering a customer experience (CX) that that drives customer loyalty and growth.
Migration to the cloud to facilitate remote operations and staff
Organizations should be constantly adapting to their customers’ changing wants and needs. One of the best ways to keep this fluidity and agility is to invest in system integrations that are built to be adaptable. Cloud technology systems make it easier to adapt to evolving customer needs by enabling your business to deploy real-time system updates how, where and when you want.
The self-adaptability of cloud systems alleviates the need to build and rebuild physical, aka ‘on premise’, technology systems, which can help to address ongoing customer, staff and business needs more effectively, while also reducing the money, time and resources needed for these constant system updates. Organizations can migrate their systems and servers to the cloud through a hybrid migration solution or full cloud solution.
Two Paths to The Cloud
- Hybrid cloud migration: Taking a hybrid migration approach involves moving some, but not all, of your contact center and business systems to the cloud, while some continue to function through on-premise systems and servers. This can help you quickly meet the immediate needs of your business, staff and customers, while taking more time to transition some of the less pressing, more time-consuming business functions. Heavily regulated business sectors, like healthcare, financial services, and government operations, benefit from taking this incremental approach, as helps to drive change while still adhering to data and security requirements.
- Full cloud migration: A full cloud migration involves an all-in, all-at-once transition of your business and contact center solutions, both front-facing and behind-the scenes, to cloud technology, thereby eliminating any on-premise platforms or technologies. Companies with less complex integrations or those with multiple outdated legacy systems, may be better served with a full cloud migration.
Whether and how you migrate to a hybrid or full cloud solution will depend on the needs of your business. Whatever method you choose, it is a near certainty that your business and consumers will be see the benefits of making this transition almost immediately.
Agent enablement to inspire positive CX from within
Agent enablement solutions will also be a major player in 2021, helping brands enhance the remote agent experience as they continue to build out remote operations and staff. Consider the emotional results of providing your staff with agent enablement tools that simplify their jobs. Implementing these tools will churn out happier agents who are more likely to deliver pleasant, memorable interactions with customers. These agent enablement tools can essentially be broken down into two categories: solutions to help agents ‘get it there’ and solutions to help them ‘get it done’.
- Enabling agents to ‘get it there’: Contact center agents often have multiple applications at their fingertips, which can complicate and overwhelm their ability to service the customer. Consider enabling your agents with a platform that does the work on the back end to deliver the right information and resources at the right time. Automating the delivery of this ‘single screen’ of information creates an easier experience for agents and a ultimately a better experience for your customers.
- Enabling agents to ‘get it done’: The right technology solutions can automate the delivery of information regarding ‘the thing you need to do and the steps you need to do it’. This can function in two ways: (1) delivering information that tells the agent what they need to do to support a customer’s inquiry or request, or (2) information regarding steps the customer should take to fulfill a need is delivered to the customer, through the agent, at the right time.
It’s important to think of the agent experience and customer experience as a singular objective; it is impossible to have one without the other. Adopting solutions that enable your contact center and customer service agents will lend itself to more positive customer interactions and experiences, which will elevate your brand and CX reputation in a meaningful way.
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Customer enablement to strengthen CX in the ‘post-pandemic’ era
The need to socially distance in 2020 put pressure on businesses to meet the needs of their customers through remote, self-serve channels. Enabling customers in this way became critical to the success of any consumer-facing business, no matter their market or industry. The businesses that were most successful in delivering self-service solutions did so in a consistent, relevant way to elevate their overall brand and CX.
- Channel fluidity and consistency: Remote offerings should function as an extension of the brand your customers know and expect. Delivering omni-channel brand consistency will help make your brand stick out in consumers’ minds, leading to stronger brand recognition and loyalty. A strong omni-channel experience should also offer fluidity and tracking, showing where and how your customers engage with your brand. Ensuring your customers are able to move seamlessly from channel to channel without any disconnect or friction will lead to an exceptional experience for all consumers, across all channels.
- Message personalization and relevance: It is no longer just Amazon and Google offering personalized interactions and experience with consumers. More companies have honed the art of personalization and relevancy, and as such, consumers have grown to expect their interactions with any brand be specific to their needs. Even if a customer has a historical relationship with a brand, their loyalty will be contingent on that organization’s ability to consistently address their unique needs, no matter the time, need or channel.
Businesses that deliver these consistent, relevant experiences to their consumers across all channels will be better armed to remain relevant and competitive in the ‘post-pandemic’ era.
Adoption of data analytics to enhance CX
Data is essential to the execution of a strong omni-channel CX strategy. It is quite difficult to ensure your customers are receiving consistent, relevant communications and offers without having a clear vision of their movement, needs and expectations. And it is challenging to have that clarity without having access to comprehensive customer data. Here are specific ways data and analytics can enhance CX.
- Journey mapping: Journey mapping offers a view of what your customers are doing and where they are going, helping you to build an understanding of patterns and hang-ups across your various channels and touchpoints. Data analytics technology offers a heightened ability to track these journeys and build insights in a more comprehensive way. Using data to improve journey mapping can help your business build a more robust, accurate picture of these journeys to make meaningful improvements where necessary.
- Data unification: One of the biggest obstacles to overcome with data is system and information silos, which often result in confusing, incomplete or inconsistent customer information. System and information silos often lead to a confusing, incomplete or inconsistent customer experience. This issue can be easily resolved by adopting a customer data platform (CDP) that unifies and manages all customer data into a single location, to churn-out a singular record for each customer, known to some as a ‘golden customer record’.
- 360-degree customer view: Golden customer records contain data pooled from as many sources as is possible - transactional, interactional, public sources, and third-party systems – to build a 360-degree understanding of each customer. Data automation and CDPs are a means to collect this data quickly, effectively and on an ongoing basis. The best data solutions also offer the capability to automate the delivery of actionable insights to enable customers, agents and sales.
In other words, data is necessary for making meaningful, impactful changes to processes and tasks that will improve CX and drive customer loyalty, retention and sales.
Infusion of artificial intelligence to empower CX
AI is a powerful tool for CX orchestration. Depending on how and where a business implements the technology, AI can empower any one of the core components of a CX strategy, especially customer enablement, agent enablement and data analytics.
- AI for customer enablement: AI technology like chat-bots are enabling and improving self-service experiences for both customers and businesses. This technology automates these conversations, which can make the process quicker and easier for both parties, while constantly improving on what can be accomplished. The best way to deliver this solution is to be honest about the fact that they are interacting with a bot and give customers alternative options for speaking with a live agent, should they need more assistance.
- AI for agent enablement: AI technology can automate the delivery of customer information to contact center agents, fueling with the "getting it here" part of agent enablement.
- AI for data analytics: AI-run analytics look at patterns in data to build customer profiles and automate customer insights and next-best actions.
Investments in CX innovations like the cloud, agent enablement, customer enablement, data analytics, and AI technologies are key to building a CX strategy that empowers your business to continue growing. Avtex helps our clients to implement and integrate technologies such as these to drive results quickly and easily, with minimal disruption. Contact us now to get started with your customer experience innovation.