What’s Next? Reclaiming Customer Experience Excellence

Just as contact centre managers, DevOps and telecom teams are starting to catch their breath from the heroic efforts of enabling contact centre and IVR operations during the most disruptive global event in modern history, executives and business leaders have begun asking a most important question: what next?

It seems clear that work-at-home contact centres will now be the norm – at least for some time. We may return to the operational environments of the recent past at some point, but it’s likely that short-term efforts to survive and thrive during a year or two of mandatory and optional shutdowns will leave a lasting impact on the contact centre technology landscape. As cloud, virtual desktop and other technologies are mixed thoroughly in a recipe for high-quality, work-from-home success, most organisations will need to maintain the same high level of customer experience, regardless of the tech.

Why Customer Experience is a Big Deal

Customer experience (CX) can be a bit of a catch phrase that seems abuzz in several different corners of the industry. For clarity, my lens of CX is decidedly focused on two related areas: the functionality of how the call is handled by the platform (think IVR through to CTI and agent screen pop) and on voice quality.

With that context, the technology platforms required to deliver great customer experiences have evolved significantly in recent years – both in capability and in terms of the vendor landscape. At the same time, the expectations have never been higher. In an era when poor customer experience quickly results in public online reviews and tweets, business stakeholders are counting on the contact centre to help build and protect an organisation’s brand and reputation. Put another way, misconfiguration or outages no longer just impact a few callers; they now can have lasting effects on customer loyalty and brand perception.

In fact, Forbes reported that 73% of consumers say a good experience is key in influencing their brand loyalties, and companies that lead in customer experience outperform laggards by nearly 80%. Moreover, the article also reported that companies that earn $1 billion a year will see an average gain of $700 million within three years of investing in customer experience.

Many enterprises are realising this opportunity and investing in new strategies to meet the demand of next-generation services while at the same time ensuring a positive customer experience with the underlying technology. While exciting and beneficial to the business and customer experience, this results in more complexity which can challenge quality-of-experience.

Go Back to the Basics

Regardless of the size of the contact centre or business, there are several baseline strategies that need to be considered when looking to optimise customer experience:

  • DevOps Expertise: As contact centres become more complex with different systems, processes and technologies, operators need to be trained and processes need to be in place. This goes both for platform functionality (some platforms are easier than others, of course), as well as telephony and troubleshooting expertise. As good as the technology has become, veteran operators who are learning the latest technologies can bring expertise to the cutting edge
  • Operations Tools: If you’re serious about providing great experiences, you’ll need to empower your experts with tools that: a) help them (and you) to make the best use of time and b) support a process and operations methodology to proactively support great customer experiences. From IVR changes, to application integration glitches and VoIP anomalies, the landscape is ripe with technology that can go wrong. Platform-vendor tools tend to be limited and let things fall through the chasm of multi-vendor environments. Third-party, purpose-built tools are meant to bridge the gap
  • Test Often… with Automation: Testing is rarely anyone’s favourite task in the context of operations and DevOps. But it is critical. The reason pros have an aversion to testing is because manually going through the customer’s journey can be very time consuming and repetitive. This is a great area to apply automation and employ a third-party tool to build testing campaigns capable of navigating even the most complex IVR environments. If you have not explored this area recently, you may be surprised to see how capable testing platforms are now
  • Data, Data and More Data: Measuring the right KHIs and operations telemetry data is critical. Historically, contact centers focused on simple metrics such as call volumes and wait times, but little attention was given to the entire customer journey. Today, many more companies are realising that the successful contact centre call starts long before and agent answers. Analytics and insights specific to operational components are a must

Sharpen Your 2020 Focus

It is vital that businesses continue to look for effective solutions to ensure the health and functionality of their contact centre environment so that they can support and optimise the customer experience while adjusting to our new mid-pandemic/post-pandemic way of life and business. Narrowing in on issues and improving the overall user experience is key to improving customer satisfaction and retention, allowing both the customer and the enterprise to win.

This post originally appeared as a guest post on CX Today here.