Keith Pearce Jul 11, 2018

Five critical requirements for customer experience in an ultra-connected era

By the time customers call contact centers today, most of them have been or are on the website. When they call, they want the agent to know the relevant information and expect a personalized experience—with details of previous interactions readily available.

But there’s a catch: Many contact centers struggle to link all these customer touchpoints and offer a consistent experience across all channels. That’s only possible when the agent has full visibility into the customer journey.

Think about it: Does your infrastructure have the flexibility to support new paths of customer engagement? Can you easily add new channels such as video, social media or text?

If not, your infrastructure may depend on older technology best suited to customer contact based on phone calls. Adding new technologies and channels thus requires complex integrations among multiple systems and applications that fail to deliver as one.

Let’s look at how you can resolve these problems and lay a foundation capable enough to handle next-generation challenges.

A customer journey seamless as it seems

If your contact center began as voice-only, you’ve probably added email, web chat, video and other channels. These often independent, siloed solutions now form obstacles to efficiency and growth. But you’re not alone.

Today’s customer journeys often begin on chat, social media or a messaging application. This makes it even more difficult to deliver seamless experiences across all self- and assisted-service channels, while maintaining context throughout the customer’s journey.

Still a journey-focused approach is critical. It puts the customer at the center of your business strategy which, in turn, drives loyalty and revenue. Companies with a mature approach to customer experience can assess and optimize customer journeys as a core practice. True omnichannel engagement as the foundational technology holds the key to creating effortless customer journeys.

Getting to the heart of the customer engagement hub

“To offer an end-to-end customer experience across channels and departments, IT leaders must build a customer engagement hub (CEH),” defined as an integrated network of systems from multiple vendors, says Olive Huang, research director at Gartner, in “Ten Steps to Plan a Next Generation Customer Engagement Hub.”

At their foundation, customer engagement hubs require flexible omnichannel capabilities that support future tech innovations, an unknown number of new channels, plus third-part data sources. Are you prepared for such complex interactions?

This omnichannel model of engagement—where data is shared in real time—often forces a cultural shift within a company. Ease of use can help facilitate and differentiate your business from an employee engagement perspective. Is your infrastructure up to the task?

The right route: True omnichannel routing and analytics

Managing continually changing workloads and conflicting needs represents a never-ending balancing act. Routing is foundational to personalized, omnichannel customer experiences and can often solve the problem. But despite the dramatic increase in mobile and digital engagement, most enterprises still use queue-based routing among siloed channels.

True omnichannel routing is far more effective and efficient. This rules-based approach dynamically matches each customer interaction, from any touchpoint over any channel, with a properly skilled agent at the optimal proficiency level. It also supports the pre-routing decision-making process via machine learning, which includes guiding users to self-service and prompting post-routing actions.

It also gives you a single, consistent source for reporting and analytics, as well as related business decisions, by drilling into any skill or skill set across your virtual resource pool, for example.

Bot and sold: Self-service and chatbots transforming customer engagement

While self-service historically focused on call defection, today’s reality shows that customers prefer it as the first place to seek information. Increased self-service is a good thing: an effortless customer experience at reduced cost.

Changes in how customers communicate drives artificial intelligence and increases use of self-service bots that can personalize the customer experience. Via data, context and natural language technologies such as bots, businesses can grasp intent and make instant decisions throughout the interaction.

Bot benefits are strong because they:

Facilitate interactions, enabling agents to handle more simultaneous chats.

Identify friction points with customers, and react to them faster by offering easy menu-based options for next steps.

Deliver on their promise as advanced technologies.

Bring on the next big thing

It’s an understatement to say the way we communicate is changing. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), the proliferation of messaging and video apps, and the ubiquitous internet make customer engagement easier yet extremely complex.

Add to that an explosion in the sheer number of devices on the Internet of Things (IoT) and social channels now leveraged for customer engagement, and it boils don to a seismic reshaping of how we perceive customer experience and map its related journeys.

From a workforce perspective, this spills over into the continued adoption of cloud and virtualized resources, collaboration tools, and on-demand, freelance “Uber-style” employment. And without crystal balls to predict the next big thing, it’s more important than ever to select technologies that empower you to flex as business requires—and at the speed your customers demand.

Focused channels: How do we get there?

Perhaps it’s time to ask whether your current customer engagement strategy is flexible enough to deliver the end-to-end experience your customers demand. Do you ever feel like you’re dealing with a tangle of point solutions, cobbled together with duct tape and chicken wire?

Force-fitting more channels into an aging infrastructure only creates a short-term fix.

Customer engagement in a modern organization should rest on modern technology, not dated hardware that blocks improved business results. Using an open, standards-based contact center solution, you can dramatically reduce architectural complexity and establish a foundation for innovation.

Keep in mind that digital interactions account for 92 percent of all communications, with web, mobile and social as top channel choices—and exceptional growth expected this year.

By addressing the critical requirements outlined above, you can establish new customer engagement paths and provide next-generation customer experience. This will enable you to meet your customers’ demands, today and tomorrow.

Give the people who fuel your bottom line the same stellar treatment you want for yourself. Because outside of your workplace, keep this in mind: You’re a customer, too.

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Keith Pearce is the senior vice president, corporate marketing at Genesys.

If you enjoyed, this article, check out our recent Executive Report: Raising the customer experience bar.

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