Employee Engagement

6 Customer Service Trends to Lookout for in 2023

Contributed Article by Manpreet Singh Chawla

The customer service industry is constantly evolving and looking for the best way to serve customers efficiently. With customer experience becoming more critical to today’s business, new technologies are emerging to help customer service stay ahead of the latest trends. 

According to research from the Temkin Group, firms with annual revenue of $1 billion are expected to generate an additional $700 million within three years if they invest in customer experience. The revenue of SaaS companies is expected to increase by $1 billion.

These numbers make it abundantly clear that providing a positive experience for consumers leads to increased revenue from those customers. In fact, research shows that 86% of purchasers are prepared to spend extra money for an exceptional client experience. Let’s explore new customer service trends in 2023.

Top Customer Service Trends to Lookout for in 2023

Omnichannel support 

Omnichannel customer support is an integral part of delivering superior CX in today’s digital world. The days of contacting brands through telephone and fax are long gone. The most recent trends in customer care enable you to select your preferred method of reaching a support representative – phone, email, live chat, SMS, social media, etc.

Following the trend of omnichannel customer care, businesses can build a seamless customer experience and achieve the highest levels of customer satisfaction.

Benefits  

  1. Omnichannel support ensures a consistent customer experience across all touchpoints.
  2. Improved customer engagement can be achieved through real-time support options such as voice and video chat.
  3. Personalized experiences can increase customer loyalty.
  4. Centralized management of interactions streamlines operations and increases efficiency.
  5. Seamless communication between customers and support leads to increased customer satisfaction. 

Real-time co-browsing and video chat support

Advanced technology and new marketing methods give opportunities to engage with people and make goods and services visible. What if clients browse your website’s services or price page before buying?

Video chat or live chat is the best technique to assist a client through services and give real-time support. Real-time support for your company’s customer service trends is beneficial.

Benefits  

  • Instant customer service
  • Agent and customer save time
  • Increases sales possibility
  • User-friendliness
  • Increases customer satisfaction 

Automated AI chatbot support 

One of the most noteworthy service marketing techniques is the increasing usage of bots to manage large-scale customer care without human intervention. The advent and continued growth of customer service bots or chatbots enable businesses to offer round-the-clock support through automated responses that immediately aid the customer in diagnosing the technical issue.

The most prominent benefit is that they relieve agents of some of the incoming support tickets so that they can focus on more critical, complex tasks. 

Bot-driven automation can surely close the gap in the customer service hierarchy and guarantee value since 50% of consumers no longer care whether they are speaking with people or AI-enabled assistants. These easy-to-use chatbots are a cost-effective way to answer customers’ typical questions. Given their current growth report, CNBC  predicts that chatbots will reduce company costs by $8 billion by 2023.

Self-service support 

As opposed to engaging with a customer support agent, 69% of consumers want to address as many problems as possible via customer self-service techniques. By providing customers with solutions to their concerns, banks and credit unions may simplify interactions and enhance the entire experience.

As customers seek more immersive ways to connect with companies, augmented reality (AR) may become an increasingly important component of self-service alternatives. More than 90% of consumers want businesses to give self-service options, such as a call center knowledge base, product FAQs, tutorials, AI-powered chat and messaging, and automated contact centers.

Automation helps consumers discover relevant information without ever having to communicate with a person, thanks to natural language processing and conversational intelligence improvements. 

More personalized customer service 

Given the quantity of personal data collected by companies, it would be irresponsible not to use it. 71% of consumers expect personalized interactions with companies after providing them with personal data. It involves providing customers with the help options they find most convenient, replying to their mail on an individual basis, and giving tailored recommendations. In addition, it may include recognizing their noteworthy accomplishments, distributing content pertinent to their needs, and enhancing the usability of self-service portals.

Every channel in your service mix, such as the website, social media platforms, email marketing, and help desk software, provides a vast array of choices for personalizing the customer experience. The optimum level of customization increases long-term customer loyalty and accelerates growth.

Proactive support

Consumers have enjoyed proactive support for decades. With automation on the horizon, team members proactively contact customers and give assistance, which is why it will be a robust 2023 customer service trend.

Research conducted in the United States by InContact reveals that 87% of people stated they welcome proactive business contact.

Proactive support helps avoid problems before they happen. It also deals with any concerns before they get worse. This shows that the company cares about its customers and helps keep them loyal. It is important for a company to ask about any issues their customers may have and address them proactively.

Facts at a glance   

  • 59% of consumers are more concerned about customer service in the post-pandemic era.
  • 79% of organizations reported an increase in customer loyalty, sales, and income after using automated chat.
  • 61% of consumers would now switch to a rival after a single negative experience. 

Takeaways

Managing customer experience is a difficult endeavor that requires a thorough understanding of the client’s wants and expectations. In recent years, it is not surprising that there has been a significant shift in the behavior of both consumers and companies. If companies want to succeed, they must invest in the right technology to deliver customer-focused solutions.  

In 2023, CX will undergo significant changes. To meet the ever-rising customer expectations, a number of companies need to implement new technology, such as artificial intelligence, automated procedures, and a multichannel strategy.

Employees Motivation and Recognition and Its Influence on Customer Satisfaction

Contributed article by Matt Robinson

Employee motivation and recognition is an important factor in any successful business. It can not only increase productivity but also create a positive customer experience, leading to long-term customer satisfaction.

With that in mind, employers must understand how they can effectively motivate employees by creating a rewarding work environment through appreciation and recognition programs, as well as utilizing workflow systems designed with employee needs in mind.

In this blog post, we will explore the importance of employee motivation and recognition on customer satisfaction levels, providing strategies businesses can utilize to ensure customer loyalty while keeping staff morale high.

Employee Motivation and Recognition 

High employee motivation and recognition are crucial for any business to achieve success. When employees are motivated, they tend to be more productive, creative, and proactive.

They are also more likely to stay with the company longer, as they feel valued and appreciated. Recognizing employees for their hard work, achievements, and contributions goes a long way in boosting their morale and enhancing their job satisfaction as well as customer satisfaction.

Businesses that prioritize employee motivation and recognition are more capable of creating a positive work culture where everyone works towards a common goal of success. This may lead to better performance and ultimately, higher profits for the company.

Why Employee Motivation is so Important 

When it comes to running a successful business, employee motivation is key. Motivated employees are more productive, work efficient, and committed, leading to better overall performance and ultimately profitability.

But it’s not just about the bottom line – employee motivation also has a huge impact on job satisfaction, retention rates, and company culture.

Without motivated employees, businesses often struggle to achieve their goals, maintain a positive work environment, and keep up with competitors.

That’s why it’s crucial for companies to prioritize employee motivation through various strategies, such as recognizing and rewarding hard work, offering opportunities for growth and development, and fostering open communication and collaboration.

Ultimately, investing in employee motivation is investing in the future success of the business.

Benefits of Employee Recognition for Your Business 

It is of utmost importance to appreciate your employees for their efforts. Recognition, in the form of rewards or simple appreciation, is a powerful tool that can increase employee productivity, retention, engagement, and social recognition in the community at large.

Furthermore, employee recognition helps to create a positive work culture, which is essential for productivity and profitability. Overall, taking the time to thank and appreciate your employees can go a long way and have significant positive effects for your business.

How does Employee Motivation and Recognition yields social recognition 

Employee motivation and recognition have a significant impact on social recognition. So, what is social recognition? Well, social recognition refers to the acknowledgement and appreciation of an individual or a group’s contributions within a community or society.

When employees feel motivated and recognized at work, they are likely to perform better and contribute more to their organization. As a result, they are more likely to elevate the business to a level where it receives social recognition from the broader community.

This recognition is essential for individuals and groups as it enhances their sense of belonging, morale, and self-esteem. Therefore, organizations must prioritize employee motivation and recognition to foster a positive work environment that benefits both the employees and the broader society.

Different Types of Employee Motivation and Recognition Techniques

Motivated employees are essential for the success of any company. There are various types of motivation techniques that companies can use to boost employee performance. One common method is financial incentives such as bonuses or raises.

Another method is the non-financial incentives, such as offering flexible work hours or opportunities for career advancement. By providing the right recognition approach, companies can create a positive work environment that encourages employees to perform at their best.

Employee recognition is another important aspect of motivation. Recognizing exceptional work through public recognition or awards can increase employee morale and loyalty.

As a result, it’s essential to understand the different types of employee motivation and recognition techniques in order to tailor and implement them effectively.

How to Effectively Use these Techniques

Effective techniques are essential in achieving success, but knowing how to use them is equally crucial. To make the most of these tools, it’s essential to have the right skills and knowledge.

First, understanding the purpose of the technique can help you use it effectively. Secondly, practice enhances your proficiency in adopting the method, and it helps you find new ways to improvise.

Lastly, be patient with yourself while learning the skill and take small steps towards your goal. With these approaches and guidance, anyone can harness the full potential of techniques and put them to use successfully.

Examples of Successful Employee Recognition Programs 

Successful organizations leverage employee recognition programs to foster a positive company culture, boost employee morale, and retain top talent. One example of a successful recognition program is the “Catch Me at My Best” initiative by Hilton Hotels which recognizes employees for going above and beyond their job descriptions. Another example is the “Torchbearer Award” by Marriott, which recognizes employees who embody the company’s spirit and values.

Both of these programs demonstrate that employee recognition is not about material rewards but rather about acknowledging employees’ achievements and efforts, which goes a long way in making them feel valued and appreciated.

In conclusion

Employee motivation and recognition are essential to the success of any business. They enhance employees’ productivity and satisfaction in their work.

There are different types of employee motivation, including financial bonuses, trust-building activities, recognition rewards and more, which can be effective in motivating employees. At the same time, employers can use employee recognition methods like offering awards or publicly recognizing a job well done to appreciate their employees’ hard work. Ultimately, implementing strong systems of motivation and recognition make for a happy workforce which leads to improved customer satisfaction.

CX and Contact Center Priorities and Technology Investments for 2023

Each year, DMG Consulting surveys our international customer base of enterprise, contact center, and IT leaders and asks them to share their customer experience (CX) and contact center goals, as well as related technology investment priorities for the upcoming year. Figure 1 shows the top 10 contact center priorities for 2023.

Source: DMG Consulting LLC, January 2023

Improving the CX remains the top priority for companies of all sizes and was cited by 81.1% of survey participants, an increase from 76.4% of respondents who selected this item in the 2022 study. The remaining items in the chart reflect the various ways companies plan to enhance their CX. 55.7% of survey participants intend to improve their self-service systems. Since self-service has become consumers’ preferred method of assistance, it is great to see this priority near the top of the list. Reducing operating costs and improving productivity came in 3rd and 4th place, identified by 49.1% and 48.1% of survey respondents respectively. These two goals are typically near the top of contact center priorities, as companies need to keep their costs down. The emphasis on cost reduction and productivity improvement takes on even greater emphasis in tough economic times. This doesn’t mean that companies won’t invest in new systems and operational initiatives; it does mean that investments need to have a strong supporting business case and a rapid payback.

Improving employee engagement came in 5th place, chosen by 37.7% of survey participants. Enterprise executives increasingly appreciate the contributions of their employees in delivering a great CX. Updating contact center systems and technology came in 6th place, prioritized by 35.9% of respondents. This is a similar result to the 2022 edition of this study, which was 35.8%. Good systems and applications are needed to deliver a great CX at scale. In a related category, improving agent automation came in 7th place, identified by 30.2% of participants. Due to innovations in artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, solutions that provide real-time guidance and reduce the time agents spend writing after-call summaries can help decrease average handle time while improving the experience for customers and agents.

Undergoing a digital transformation came in 8th place, cited by 28.3% of survey respondents. This category was ranked much higher in the 2022 edition of the study, when 39.8% of survey participants selected it. Digital transformation remains a critical initiative for companies, but once it has started, many enterprises prioritize new initiatives while they work on the old ones. DMG expects to see organizations continue implementing various phases of their digital transformation for at least the next 5 years, as there is a lot of work still to be done.

Migrating systems to the cloud was the 9th place CX and contact center goal for 2023, identified by 19.8% of survey respondents, which was up from 15.5% in 2022. There is no longer a debate regarding whether to transition systems and applications to the cloud; the discussion now is when to make the move. The holdouts, which include the largest contact centers, have started the process. In some situations, this is because their premise-based vendors are actively encouraging them to migrate; in others, it is because companies are accepting that the future of CX and contact center technology involves cloud-based solutions, which is where most of the market innovation is happening.

The goal rounding out the top 10 for 2023 is adding new customer support channels. 18.9% of survey respondents identified this as a priority, compared to 26.8% in 2022. This is an area companies will continually need to address as long as there are new channels.

Final Thoughts

Companies are looking to the future by emphasizing and investing in improving their CX. It may take more time and effort to get a project approved in 2023 than it did in the first half of 2022, but initiatives with quantifiable benefits that also enhance the CX and employee engagement are expected to be top investment priorities this year. 

Adapting Workforce Optimization to Meet the Rapidly Changing Priorities of Contact Center Operations

In normal times, workforce optimization is a business approach that utilizes advanced contact center technologies to improve customer experience while boosting overall operational efficiency. WFO includes…but is not limited to…automating processes, creating greater data visibility, ensuring compliance, performance management, recording, surveying, eLearning, speech analytics and solving staff-related business problems.

Now, businesses and government agencies are either requiring employees to work from home or redirecting call traffic to employees in less affected regions to handle spikes in interaction volume during the COVID-19 outbreak. Of course, this has led to additional considerations in terms of people and priorities, such as:

  • Increasing the focus on risk assessment and controls
  • Greater emphasis on employee communications, policies, and messaging to ensure that front-line personnel are kept abreast of all pertinent facts
  • Updating QA monitoring and reporting procedures to incorporate the activities of an elevated number of remote workers
  • Improving agility and flexibility while enhancing agent empathy

With the non-stop changes everyone is currently experiencing—constant uncertainty about what might happen in the immediate future, shifting schedules for work and school, caring for family members and overriding concerns about ongoing health risks—employees are often exhausted by the effort required to simply maintain a sense of consistency in their lives.

This rapidly evolving scenario is spurring a greater sense of urgency for businesses to promote employee engagement and prevent morale from cratering among both remote and premise-based agents. Companies are creating policies on the fly to make necessary adjustments during the transition. Among the strategies to be addressed are minimizing uncertainty by more meticulous tracking of outcomes to better predict results. Agents also need to be given higher degree of empowerment. This can be abetted by ensuring they are equipped with the tools and information necessary to do their jobs.

Taking the necessary steps to stabilize and improve workforce performance during the current crisis will be outlined on Tuesday, July 7th at 1:00 pm ET. CrmXchange offers a complimentary roundtable webcast on Best Practices for Workforce Optimization. It will highlight proven approaches and actionable insights to help optimize efficiency in contact center environments.  Among the topics to be discussed are:

  • Using WFO tools to help agents safely make the return to the office
  • Managing hybrid workforce of remote and onsite workers
  • Incorporating regional COVID-19 related safety regulations into business practices
  • Spending time wisely – Establishing more frequent touchpoints to ensure agents continue to feel connected
  • Keeping agents motivated by sharing successes and reward achievements

The roundtable will feature presentations from two experts from leading WFO solution providers. Rich Correia, Director of Product Marketing, NICE will share his expertise in deploying the right products to meet changing need. Kelly Koelliker, Director, Content Marketing for Verint will provide insight on adapting the most effective contact center workforce engagement solutions.

Register now for this targeted and topical roundtable discussion. For those who can’t attend the live session, a link to the webcast will be posted 24 hours after it has been completed.

Meeting the New Challenges of Employee Training, Coaching and Engagement

Since the contact center agent is the face and voice that often defines a company in the eyes of existing and potential customers, workforce recruiting must focus on identifying vital traits, skills, and abilities in individuals. But even when those who meet the highest qualifications are put in place, they must be trained, continuously coached, and kept actively engaged to be successful.

Companies which can recruit and retain qualified and motivated front-line personnel are positioned to operate more efficiently while building customer loyalty. According to a McKinsey report, “Failure to keep talented employees can have significant repercussions… attrition can erode customer satisfaction while increasing operating costs. Each new agent hire is estimated to cost the contact center $10,000 to $20,000 in training, direct recruiting costs, and lost productivity during ramp up.”

Taking every step to keep top performers onboard is now more critical than ever. Although many consumers have become comfortable with online self-service tools, once they decide to call into the contact center the issues are almost always more complicated to resolve. Since people are already frustrated at being unable to find answers on other channels, they are on edge from the moment when an agent picks up the call.

This dilemma has only grown more acute during a crisis in which many customers are already panicked. According to a recent blog on CrmXchange by Uniphore, 60% of consumers said they were given different or conflicting information on current conditions from the news, leaving more questions than answers. Adding more fuel to the fire is that customers are often faced with longer wait times as companies adapt to a new wave of work-at-home agents. Nearly 40% who were put on hold with a company after calling about crisis-related issues stated that they were annoyed or frustrated.

Further McKinsey research suggests a need for companies to take a proactive stance when interacting with their contact-center employees by focusing on engagement and finding ways to increase their comfort and happiness wherever they are working. They found a startling difference in outcomes. Engaged and satisfied call-center employees are:

  • 8.5x more likely to stay than leave within a year
  • 4x more likely to stay than dissatisfied colleagues
  • 16x more likely to refer friends to their company
  • 3.3x more likely to feel extremely empowered to resolve customer issues

So how does a company ensure that these valuable assets are happier and more productive? Actions in three areas can have a major impact– targeted coaching, employment of updated training techniques and applying proven strategies to enhance employee engagement —and they are available for all contact centers to take.

A focused educational alternative now makes it possible for a business’s entire workforce planning team to benefit from the latest innovative thinking without ever having to take so much as a step away from their home offices.

CrmXchange is presenting a premier online virtual conference: Techniques for Training, Coaching and Employee Engagement, to be held from June 15-19. The event is being produced in conjunction with the Quality Assurance and Training Connection, (QATC), a membership association created specifically for quality assurance and training professionals in the contact center environment.

The web conference is structured to benefit contact center leaders at all levels – supervisors, managers, directors, and VPS. The fully interactive event enables attendees to meet with industry experts and colleagues who will answer questions in real time while providing updated strategies and techniques. The schedule is designed to provide direction to meet the changing needs of businesses transitioning to a greater percentage of work-at-home agents but will also provide guidance for companies still maintaining on-premise employees.

Among the topics to be covered in-depth are:

  • Learning how to work in a remote world
  • Best methods for coaching and training remote and on-premise agents
  • How to optimize agent performance in the new reality
  • Developing an effective instructor competency program

The event will kick off on Monday, June 15 with a focused keynote address entitled “Do Better Work – Finding Clarity and Camaraderie in a Remote World.” It will be presented by Max Yoder, CEO and Co-Founder, Lessonly who will offer stories of the best ways for businesses to navigate the path to working from home, providing specific examples of how to foster understanding, accountability, and progress from disparate teams.

Other areas to be explored in this targeted, complimentary virtual conference include:

  • How to Foster Agent Engagement and Human Connection Through Coaching Your Remote Contact Center Team in a Post-Pandemic World
  • Nurturing Employees to Become Ambassadors and High Performers
  • Agent Coaching and Engagement for Remote Service Excellence
  • Creating a Solid Gamification Strategy to Engage Employees Near and Far

In addition to the educational sessions, attendees can visit the booths of leading suppliers in the online exhibit hall. They can then download white papers, videos, product data sheets and other vital content from leading solution providers and organizations such as CallMiner, NICE inContact, Calabrio, NICE, Lessonly, C3 Software and Sharpen.

Register now at no cost for the complete four-day event: there is no limit on how many people a company can sign up. For those who cannot attend the live presentations or have the time to visit the exhibits during the event, links to all sessions and the exhibit hall will remain open for one full week after the event is completed.

Finding an Easy Formula to Do the Math is a Challenge for Contact Centers

When you google “contact center metrics,” there’s no shortage of suggestions to peruse. Lists of varying numbers of suggested metrics to be monitored pop up on the screen: 7, 13, 20, 27.  But which are the right ones for a company’s specific environment? The across-the-board metric cited is First Contact Resolution (FCR), which is a standard that just about every contact center views as critical to maintain and improve.  Similarly, Customer Satisfaction ratings, while not always quite as simple to define, are also a universal target to be monitored.

But it gets murkier from there. Many other commonly cited metrics, such as service level or average handle time, are not always directly comparable across channels; and evaluating teams that share some — but not all — queues is not always a precise process.  An ICMI study revealed that 39% of contact center leaders struggle to identify and measure key performance indicators.

A deeper understanding of metrics and how to calculate them helps a business set the right targets and reach goals to support its mission and vision. Each measure used to help determine how teams are performing needs to be understandable and actionable to individual agents, supervisors and management alike.  When all parties agree on what is important, a company can consistently track performance and see where to improve processes and training to help its agents do better.

Having this level of clarity on goals and metrics and knowing how they’re tracking towards those goals, creates employees who are more engaged with their work and empowered in their roles. A Dale Carnegie infographic shows that companies with more engaged employees outperform companies without engaged employees by 202%, and have customer retention rates that are 18% higher, according to loyalty strategy research by Colloquy.

Setting goals to measure performance can be somewhat tricky. Targets should not be so difficult to attain as to make them daunting for agents. There must be flexibility and compromise in determining how to balance between goals that appear to compete with one another, such as average handle time – where saving and time and reducing cost is paramount – and customer satisfaction, especially in cases that involve more complex interactions. When creating scoreboards to measure agent performance, businesses need to ensure that goals are instantly comprehensible and ready to act upon. They also need to make sense mathematically in tracking drivers across all contact channels including traditional, social, and mobile.  It’s helpful to use the same classification system across all interactions and equip agents to use it consistently.

Of course, simply knowing which metrics to use and how to score them is not the be-all, end-all for optimizing agent happiness. Going back to Google, one would find an astounding 147,000+ results for “benefits of a happy contact center agent”. The major areas of focus in these listings range from the obvious: “why agent satisfaction is important,” to the ubiquitous “fun things to do to keep agents happy” and the more specific evaluations of software and services to promote agent satisfaction.

Companies must be proactive in their approach to building models that are consistently accurate in predicting probabilities and outcomes in their contact centers. Models that are less than precise lead to failure to maintain desired service levels and result in cost overages. Businesses need to find innovative but proven methods to calculate the proper variables and the right things to look for in developing analyses that result in accurate forecasts.

Data abundance and complex operations make it challenging to develop, implement, and present clean, clear reports and on-target analyses. Over the next several months, agent-first solution provider Sharpen Technologies, developers of an always-on contact center platform built for the enterprise, will present a comprehensive series of complimentary webcasts on CrmXchange.

The four sessions are designed to demystify the process of determining the right metrics, show businesses how to measure and accurately analyzing contact center performance, and to implement those analyses across the operation so the entire organization stays focused on excellence. It will culminate in a discussion of how to put together the most efficacious math models for contact center executives and managers to glean actionable insights.

The first webcast in the series, “Attributes of Solid Contact Center Performance Metrics – and Attributes of Poor Ones”  will take place on Thursday, March 5.

The second,” Learn How to be Great: Helping Agents, Supervisors, and Execs Perform,” will be presented on Tuesday April 21.

The third session, “Setting Performance Goals and Scorecards,” comes up on Thursday, August 13.

The final presentation “Building Great “What-If” Models and the Resulting Analyses for the CEO” will be delivered on Tuesday, October 20.

All webcasts will be jointly presented by Ric Kosiba, Chief Data Scientist and Adam Settle. Chief Product Officer, Sharpen Technologies. Ric’s vast background of expertise goes back two decades to Bay Bridge Decisions Technologies which he co-founded in 2000. In that role, he developed the contact center industry’s first “what if” decision engine, a complex set of algorithms designed to forecast proper staffing levels. Adam is an experienced education professional skilled in Sales, Coaching, Team Building, and Training. He combines his extensive knowledge with hands-on experience as a trainer at Apple and Angie’s List.

Register now at no cost for the individual presentations or the complete series. Each webcast is at 1:00PM ET. If you cannot attend the live presentation, a link to the recorded session will be available within 24 hours.

Melding AI and Virtual Assistants with Humans: The Right Formula for a Superior Customer Experience

By now, just about all of us have encountered an automated system when reaching out to a contact center. According to research cited in a 2017 IBM Watson blog, by 2020, 85% of all customer interactions will be handled without a human agent. Sometimes, such systems work flawlessly: the bot or virtual assistant (VA) understands customers responses easily and the conversation progresses smoothly as they either get the information they expected or complete the process they hoped to finish. In some cases, customers may not even be sure they are interacting with an automated entity.

But while AI continues to provide increasingly beneficial results in the contact center environment and to grow in its capabilities to emulate human behavior, it is not yet the be-all, end-all technology that can resolve every issue. In some instances, the AI system simply can’t process the information that customers supply, leaving them ensnared in a loop of repetitive responses….and the resultant frustration can have immediate and serious consequences. NICE inContact’s 2018 CX Transformation Benchmark, revealed that only 33% of consumers found that chatbots and VAs consistently made it easier to get their issues resolved.

This is precisely why it’s critical to ensure that empathetic human intervention is readily available.

When the human touch is needed, it must be prompt, proactive, professional and above all, responsive to the customer’s needs. While many contact centers are increasing their reliance on AI solutions to reduce headcount and deliver rapid ROI on their technology expenditure, they are also learning that not having enough caring flesh-and-blood agents ready to complement their electronic counterparts can result in diminished loyalty and customer churn. Establishing the right balance between an effective, continuously updated AI program and humans who can seamlessly step in at just the right moment is a necessity in an environment where customer satisfaction has become the most significant business differentiator.

Having the capacity to train an AI system to determine the exact point in a conversation on any touch point where the customer needs to be handed off to a live agent is the most important factor in the process. Analytics plays a key role: data gathered within each individual interaction can provide a treasure trove of relevant information enabling managers to better understand what sets a customer on edge, what makes them feel more comfortable in a conversation that is not going well and what can ultimately drive them to take their business elsewhere. Having the right intelligence readily available also enables management to also pinpoint necessary adjustments in policy, procedure or verbiage.

Of course, as AI increases in intelligence through machine learning, it can also provide additional value-added suggestions such as which department is best equipped to assist customers based on analysis of their specific needs. Leading-edge AI solutions can pair such customers with an individual agent with the right skill set to guide them to successful resolution of their issue.

Companies investigating either implementing or upgrading an AI customer service solution need to develop a strategy that offers optimal potential to enhance customer relationships and improve the quality of interactions on all touch points. In addition, they must explore ways to strengthen collaboration between self-service entities and live agents.

On Thursday, October 3rd at 1:00 PM ET, CrmXchange will present a Best Practices Roundtable on Seamless Customer Experience: Combining AI VA with Live Agents, featuring experts from leading solution providers NICE inContact and Verint. Among the topics discussed will be:

  • Current AI adoption trends: how to get the most of early AI investments
  • How is AI impacting customer service today and what’s ahead in the future?
  • Where AI can add the greatest benefits
  • How to define and implement the right mix of automation and human touch—without damaging consumer trust and undermining relationships in the process of digitization.

This informative roundtable webcast is complimentary and those unable to attend it live can download it approximately 24 hours after it is completed. Register now

How Does Employee Engagement Help Companies Deliver on the Marketing Promises Made to Customers?

Businesses spend enormous amounts of time, effort and capital building a brand to which people can relate. They use terminologies such as “dependable,” “on your side,” “you’ve got a friend,” “like a good neighbor,” “we treat you like you’d treat you,” “you can count on us,” and too many others to mention. But applying such warm human attributes to a company is a double-edged sword that can cut quick and deep when a customer’s experience with front-line personnel doesn’t live up to the expectations created by marketing.

A recent Aberdeen study revealed that successful customer interactions have more influence on customer satisfaction than any other factor—including product features and pricing. The challenge faced by every organization is to motivate its people to keep these marketing promises.

In a 2016 report the research firm The Temkin Group (since acquired by Qualtrics) noted the correlation between employee engagement and delivering a consistently superior customer experience. It found that 77% of employees are highly or moderately engaged in companies that are better financial performers than their peers, compared with only 49% of employees in companies which are not doing as well– a 60% difference. It also found that highly engaged employees are more than four times as likely to recommend the company’s products and services and do something good for the company that is not expected of them. These employees spread their enthusiasm to customers and are more dedicated to providing the best possible service. One significant example of this is reported by the Bain Group, stating the “key ingredient” to JetBlue’s high customer ratings is that “JetBlue employees treat customers’ problems as their own.”

As noted in an article in Forbes, ‘engagement comes from feeling good, from passion for the company, from believing that the work that one does is meaningful and from attaching part of one’s identity with their job.” But research indicates that employees in in customer-facing roles are often less engaged due to the non-stop, day-to-day pressures of their jobs. One important way companies can inspire higher levels of engagement is to provide employees with the technology they need to improve communication and collaboration. When the right support is in place, employees tend to become more invested in the organization, which can double customer satisfaction rates when compared to others in their industry.

While improving employee engagement is critical to bottom-line success, taking a “one-size-fits-all” approach does not work. “Employee Engagement – The Hidden Secret to Customer Engagement,” a CRMXchange webcast scheduled for Tuesday, September 24, sponsored by business communication and contact center technology provider RingCentral will start you in the right direction. Omer Minkara, VP & Principal Analyst, Contact Center & Customer Experience Management, Aberdeen will delve into the key components in building a successful program. These include

  • Top drivers of employee engagement
  • The solutions best-in-class firms use to improve employee engagement
  • How emerging technologies, such as AI, influence employee engagement and CX results
  • Real-life success stories from firms that transformed their CX results through employee engagement

The webcast is complimentary and those unable to attend it live can download it approximately 24 hours after it is completed. Register now.

It’s So Random: Changing the Culture of ‘Who’s Up Next’ with Intelligent Call Routing

With comprehensive information at everyone’s fingertips, few people now book a hotel room in a far-off location, make a reservation in an unfamiliar restaurant or hire an unknown contractor without carefully reviewing all relevant feedback. For the most part, businesses are even more cautious about making moves, industriously uncovering everything about prospective employees during the hiring process, and thoroughly investigating every angle of any potential partnership, investment strategy or technology purchase.

Yet, with all the rich data resources available to them, most organizations leave one crucial business process almost entirely to chance: which front-line representative takes the lead in customer interactions. Startlingly, 95 – 99% of companies still randomly route customer calls to the next available agent. Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way. Intelligent routing systems—with the capability to identify the caller and the reason for the call to assign the customer to the agent best skilled to handle the specific inquiry— have been around for years and are constantly becoming more efficient and affordable.

Rather than adhering to the circuitous procedure of using interactive voice recording (IVR) to send the customer to the most appropriate department or to an initial operator who will forward the call, intelligent call routing totally streamlines the process. It taps directly into customer records to retrieve information about the caller based on previous interactions and instantly directs the call to whom it judges to be the most qualified agent to handle the issue. In making split-second routing determinations, such systems not only take into account an agent’s track record, training and skills, but also consider caller priority, long-term customer value and more. Sometimes, the best responder for a specific call may already be engaged in another ongoing conversation that started only a few minutes earlier. Depending on how long the caller may have to wait, how wait time impacts that individual’s satisfaction and the skill level of others available, intelligent call routing decides to either have the caller wait or assign them to the next best agent.

With the increasing volume of available data on customer history and improved knowledge of agent capabilities, the traditional legacy routing strategy is evolving to become more intelligent, personalized, and able to effect specific improvements in a company’s metrics. Integrations now enable the use of data gleaned from previous interactions to provide insight into a customer’s personality and behavioral characteristics. By applying this knowledge, companies can gauge their customer’s communication preferences–intelligent routing can go beyond calls, helping to shape better outcomes on email, chat or messaging channels– and deliver the optimal experience.

Learn how your company can use this vital and improving technology to both reduce customer effort and create more personalized connections. Listen to a complimentary webcast “How Intelligent Call Routing Can Deliver Business Results,” presented by NICE Nexidia.

How Will Contact Center Channels Change in 2019?

Customer-centric businesses are working harder than ever to support all of the channels that their customers want to use. That’s why 84% of companies who consider themselves to be customer-centric have a heavy focus on supporting mobile channels for a greater customer experience. COPC reported that mobile care increases by 41% in 2018 alone.

The results from the 2018-2019 ContactBabel Report, as shown, illustrate that as mobile becomes more widely used by end users, channels like email, telephone, letter, and fax are expected to decrease in interactions. The channel with the largest expected increase in interactions for 2019 is web chat, with 56% of survey respondents believing there will be an increase. Social media customer service and SMS followed with 46% and 36% expecting an increase in interactions.

Both the need to retain strong CX strategies around traditional channels like email, voice, and IVR, and the need to add new channels has companies wondering how to create and run a true omnichannel contact center that empowers agents and delights customers. The ContactBabel Omnichannel Report walks though more stats from their survey, which could help you in your omnichannel journey.

With traditional channels like voice, email, and chat, as well as channels like SMS/text, video, in-app, social messengers, and bots, Bright Pattern is the only true omnichannel provider that can be turned on in just days!