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The five key pillars of exceptional customer contact
Fri, 14th Jul 2023

The experience a customer has with a brand is pivotal to that company’s success. A good customer experience (CX) will boost customer loyalty and create a positive brand reputation, enabling it to attract new customers and see improved employee engagement. A bad CX will have customers looking to competitors for better services, and customer trust can wane, which can ultimately impact the bottom line.

The stakes are high for those Contact Centres delivering CX. As well as meeting the demands of today’s customers – who value first contact resolution, choice of channels, short queues and polite customer agents – the likes of cost, revenue, sales, retention, and internal metrics also have to be taken into consideration.

There are also other challenges with delivering exceptional customer contact, from staff and skills shortages to high customer expectations and a rapidly evolving technological and work landscape, Contact Centres have many hurdles to content with. But they are not insurmountable.

To succeed, brands need to go above and beyond to provide consistent experiences to their customers while also looking to make continuous improvements to ensure customers always feel heard and valued. Employees are also key to delivering operational and CX excellence, so having empowered and engaged Contact Centre agents is a must to ensuring business success and customer satisfaction.

Here are five key pillars for success:

1. Flexibility

Moving to a cloud-based Contact Centre model has many benefits.

With 93% of UK Contact Centres today expecting at least some remote working (Contact Babel Decision Makers Guide 2023), offering secure and easy remote working for agents is a must – and can be readily achieved via the cloud with a web browser and mobile app-based platforms that can be accessed from wherever the agent is working.

A cloud SaaS or CCaaS model also offers improved scalability and efficiency, as well as new capabilities that cater to customer demand for multi-channel service and insight and integration opportunities that the traditional on-premise Contact Centre cannot. And all at a lower total cost of ownership.

2. Proactive and digital

Customers want options when it comes to contacting their favourite brands. Digital channels – such as webchat and social media – are becoming increasingly popular, and Contact Centres must proactively strive to meet customers where they’re at.

Leveraging alternative channels will also reduce call waiting times, decrease inbound Contact Centre traffic and lower abandonment levels. Offering multiple contact points for customers can help Contact Centres battling with the rising costs of calls, too – according to Contact Babel, the average cost of an inbound call is £6.55, 70% more than email and 96% more than a web chat.

By proactively moving to an omnichannel model, Contact Centres can not only meet customer expectations for choice and provide a cohesive cross-channel CX, but customer demand can be better managed to avoid customers leaving frustrated and Contact Centres left with spiralling costs. By integrating new Contact Centre platforms with customer systems of record, Contact Centres can also learn where improvements and changes can be made to the customer journey.

3. Efficiency

With today’s challenges of increasing customer demand and expectations, staff shortages, high employee turnover rate and tighter budgets, Contact Centres need to be able to ‘do more with less.’

This is where AI and automation plays a pivotal role. The likes of self-service customer channels and back-office automation capabilities can reduce effort and cost to serve. Conversational AI chatbots, for instance, empower customers to self-serve information 24/7, while RPA tools can be used to digitalise and complete repetitive processes for agents, saving them valuable time and increasing their engagement.

AI and automation tools also enable Contact Centres to better understand the customer journey and gather insight for continuous improvement. Speech and text analytics, for example, can provide insights on customer sentiment and trends so Contact Centre teams can take action to mitigate any issues, capitalise on what’s working and make upstream processes more efficient.

4. Human service

An empathetic customer service is no longer a nice to have in today’s customer journey – it’s a must in order to meet customer expectations and thrive against rising competition and tightening regulatory environments that require greater empathy and relationship-building between customers and brands. But this is easier said than done against a backdrop of high agent attrition rates, complex customer queries and multiple technological systems. Not to mention that agents are also human and may also be feeling the pinch of uncertain economic times.

To offer a human service, Contact Centres can look to engage and empower employees to become Super Agents. These are agents that are the most effective and empathetic they can be towards customers, wherever and whenever they work, and who also have the opportunity to develop their own skillset and job satisfaction.

Super Agents are empowered by good Contact Centre processes and tools – for instance, by leveraging automation to complete more mundane tasks so that agents can put their training in action and deliver more personalised, human CX. In addition, coaching and development opportunities for Super Agents will further help Contact Centres to retain, attract and develop their team of agents, while tools like gamification and performance management can provide motivation to agents and visibility to managers working with a hybrid workforce.

5. Understand and act

Having insight into customers’ journeys and their interaction history with a brand can help ContactCentres to better understand why customers are getting in contact and how they can better serve them.

By utilising tools such as modern, API-enabled systems and interactions analytics to remove data silos and gain insight on CX and operations, Contact Centres can optimise the customer journey across any channel and gain additional insight to improve operational agility and faster decision-making. Customer interactions can be personalised, and contact routing is improved when open API integrations link to valuable sources of customer data such as CRM, which also enables better customer history tracking so that queries can be resolved the first time around.

Enhanced CX for today’s customer

With these five pillars, brands and their Contact Centres can take meaningful steps to ensure that their people, processes and technology are optimised to meet the customer expectations of today. With the increasing number of cloud-based Contact Centre tools and platforms now available, delivering on these expectations has never been more achievable.