Businesses need to understand the complexities of individual transactions and customer behavior over multiple touch points and channels, now more than ever. With AI in the fore, and technological integrations becoming increasingly popular and customer support centres or contact centres have the opportunity to stand as industry leaders and reimagine every aspect of their business.
Data mining now has the ability to look at every single customer and personalise the brand’s interaction with each of them. Harnessing the massive rise in unstructured data through AI will play a crucial role in helping reshape contact centres into customer experience centres, helping them provide insights into customer needs which would drive increased efficiency and drive profitability, greater customer satisfaction and create more valued and meaningful work.
A seamless, individual customer experience
Digital convenience is a huge motivator for consumers. Several companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon have set the bar for integrated customer experience that provides individual customer service across multiple channels. Consumers today expect to move seamlessly through the different channels seamlessly.
While the customer expectations are high, their brand/company loyalty is not as much - while customers will cross channels if they cannot complete a task on their first channel of choice, they only want to engage through the channels they want to use. This is one of the integral reasons why retail businesses must understand the intricacies of individual transactions, as well as the context of customer behavior over multiple channels.
Businesses that are cognisant of their customers’ issues, moulding their experiences and creating meaningful engagement creates value for customer and company. Leveraging AI, businesses can receive immediate feedback - systematically and quantitatively, from every interaction without creating any points of friction or customer effort at an individual customer level or aggregated to the level of your choice. It links all channels to create an individual yet seamless customer experience.
Multiple channels fuel customer contact
Customers are increasingly demanding choice and control and even expect brands and retailers to anticipate their needs without invading their privacy. While digital touch points are becoming the interaction channel of choice for customers, there is still a significant amount of customer support centres that do not use data analysis tools, despite analytics being voted the top factor to change the shape of the industry in the next five years.
Furthermore, customers have reported that the phone as a channel is the most frustrating contact option, an industry study found that its dominance has not declined as quickly as expected. In 2017, almost half of the customer support executives have utilised phone and digital channels. Moreover, it is predicted that more than 50% of organisations would manage a multichannel customer support centre in the immediate future.
While AI can help augment human behavior, there is still a very real bias for humans to want to talk to other humans. Customer support is still an important competitive point of difference for business, with success gauged on customer experience outcomes. A key challenge is maintaining integration levels across all channels while providing consistent service.
Today, customer support centres are experiencing an offloading of transactional activities into alternate channels. Calls are more complex and add more value for the customer as well as the business.
This means AI will take the the existing analysis techniques of those calls to the next level. It will have the ability to map word and concept level relationships within conversations and then deduce business specific intelligence and insights. Speech analytics will be able to measure everything from the reason the person called to their mood at any stage of the call or contact.
AI can link key words and phrases and carry out semantic matching (which matches phrases on their similarity of meaning). This will enable customer support centres to improve the customer experience, monitor contact centre quality, reduce operational costs and gain critical business insights. Critically, it will do this seamlessly from the conversation, not through set questions or a survey. Today’s data, informs tomorrow’s decisions.
The road ahead
There is no denying that contact centres are entering a period of intense disruption. The rise of cloud-based infrastructure will see new forces enter the market and force existing operators to become more flexible.
For large established businesses, offering a frictionless multi-channel offering will not be something new but something expected by customers. So much so, customers won’t think about dealing with different channels within a company but simply with the company. Accurate, consistent and personalised interactions with customers will be essential.
AI software will be instrumental in helping contact centres reimagine their role from contact to resolution. It will free staff to work on meaningful, more complex and intuitive scenarios with customers as AI performs transactional and predictable tasks. The elevation of work in a contact centre has the potential to create a more stable workforce with improved corporate culture.
Ultimately, people still want to interact with other people. A contact centre is a fine example of that. Utilising AI will allow contact centres to focus less on mundane, transactional activities and more on its interactions with its customers. It will see far more opportunity for meaningful human interaction beneficial to customer and company.