Dynamics shifting Customer Care
Excellent customer care delivers competitive advantage
Until recently, most discussions around contact centers and customer support focused on reducing costs, implementing process optimization techniques, and achieving an optimal mix of onshore and offshore practices. The increasing complexity of customer-centric processes meant that very few companies had the resources or were equipped to manage these goals while improving CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) and increasing revenue from customer interactions. Today, the customers have become highly aware and knowledgeable, and demand enhanced levels of customer service; this has made companies realize that excellent customer care is one of the primary drivers of customer satisfaction and can give them a decisive competitive advantage in the market.
Digital care capabilities have matured, and this has enabled companies to adopt customer first mindset without giving up on the primary business goals. The challenge for all customer first companies is to serve a highly diligent digitally aware informed customers while looking for ways to use customer care as a differentiator. The contact center, a vital component in this strategy, must now focus on achieving performance excellence across all three key priorities: customer experience, cost optimization, and revenue maximization.
Five dynamics shifting the industry
Amid this ever-evolving landscape, we analysed the factors that will and are shaping the future of customer-centric processes. According to our analysis, the executives need to pay attention to five key trends.
1. Inbound calls will decrease or get eliminated completely
Machine Learning, AI, and Automation are changing the requirements of traditional contact centers rapidly. Today, three out of five leaders feel that inbound call volumes will decrease in the next four to five years and in ten years this volume may fall to near zero levels. As social and digital channels handle more and more transactional requests, the leftover customer interactions will be the more complex ones and account for the most volume in traditional contact centers. Meanwhile, most executives realize the competitive advantages of high-quality customer experience. Companies are therefore designing and adapting to service/process designs that give importance to simplicity, lowering costs and reducing the need for agents to handle Tier 1 (simple, repetitive issues) calls by driving traffic to self-service digital channels.
Striking the optimal balance between automation and human interaction will be crucial in the future.
2. Digital Care Channels will grow in importance in next five years
According to a survey, digital channels like web chat, social and email already account for thirty percent of customer interactions. Most believe that by 2020 this percentage will rise to at least forty-eight percent. The driving force is the new generation that grew with internet and is used to digital channels as a medium for interaction. As one executive put it, "The customers are demanding it" and cited customers requesting help over channels like Twitter. As a response, companies will need to redesign their customer-centric business processes, automate low-value transactions and consolidate multi-channel interactions. Conversational bots will play a crucial role in automation of these interactions. Over time and across verticals, this will ensure that digital channels become a gateway for resolving issues and triage mechanism for routing calls to the right stakeholders. Mobile Virtual Assistants already provide a medium to assist customers via self-service options or route the calls to the right customer support agent. Early adopters (organizations) are already busy mapping customer journeys across digital and traditional channels to provide comprehensive omnichannel customer support.
3. Substantial investments will be required to upskill customer-care professionals
As low hanging fruits and transactional calls move to various digital channels, more complex functions like cross-selling, up-selling and advisory will account for a more significant share of customer interactions in the traditional contact centers. Most executives surveyed feel that not only the transactional tickets but more than twenty-five percent of complex issues handled by exceptional customer care professionals will be automated. As a consequence, the customer care workforce will need to be reskilled and retrained to process more complicated and high-value transactions.
Surprisingly, most executives feel that their organization does not have the frontline skills or the leadership talent to handle the changing customer care dynamics.
4.High-Value customer interactions will make companies rethink customer engagement value propositions
Many early adopters are already using customer journeys and design thinking to reconfigure customer care, redesign processes and enhance customer engagement. These companies understand that customer care will soon transition from being a support function to a profit center that can help earn customer loyalty and sell to the customer. Executives are exploring live-interaction channels like video and augmented reality and a possible shift from outsourcing to in-house customer care to provide high-fidelity high-value care and support. A large number of executives surveyed stated that they are giving serious thought about relocating their contact centers; given the changes in talent, and other economic and political issues. They feel having the contact centers in-house may give them better control over the function and customized support for their customers.
5. New providers will provide new solutions; customers need to select wisely
Executives and Stakeholders in the customer care space understand the changing technology landscape and acknowledge that new investments will be required to support long-term strategic business goals. Around half of the executives, we interacted with gave a thumbs up to new technology investments. The prominent areas of investments included Artificial Intelligence related conversational agents, behavior routing and insights related tech, and visualization technologies that enhance customer interactions.
Overall, the five trends outlined in the article will reshape the contact centers as we know them today. The focus will move from customer care processes being tactical support functions to strategic customer engagement channels.
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