The last two years have handed many customer-facing organisations multiple curveballs in meeting expectations and providing a great customer experience (CX). But the ongoing misdirected outrage at the contact centre for not having expectations met is unwarranted and frankly outrageous.
So I’m calling time out on the undeserved bad reputation of the contact centre, and the ire unleashed on our hard working agents, who have served the daunting front lines as Australian organisations navigated the pandemic. It confounds me to think that something designed to build brand loyalty today incites such dread and apprehension.
Now, more than ever, the contact centre is at the epicentre of good CX. Organisations failing to recognise and harness the opportunity risk losing valued customers for good.
Time is ripe for a new era of CX
The digitisation of the contact centre picked up most pace during Covid. With in-person contact obliterated, brands and governments had to react fast to provide essential information on multiple new channels. They also had to, many for the first time, enable the work-at-home-agents model. Organisations across the region upped their investments in cloud-based contact centres that helped them to “optimise knowledge creation, dissemination, and utilisation”.
As we push ahead with economic recovery, organisations now face further fallout from the pandemic, from skill shortages, to miscalculated decisions and poor tech optimisation. One certainty remains as the industry continues to evolve with the transition – people want quick resolutions to simple problems and do not want to be left wanting or transferred to several different operators.
The Information Services Group (ISG) predicts that over the next five years in Australia, there will be greater adoption of lower-cost, digital, self-service channels, chatbots and instant messaging. Market demand is also slated to grow – research has predicted that the APAC contact centre applications market will see a compound annual growth rate of 4.3% from 2019 to 2026.
At a time of such industry growth and investment – brands need to redefine CX. The customer journey is no longer linear but continuous, with ever expanding touchpoints and interactions. According to Frost & Sullivan, customer contact continues to evolve into seamless customer journeys that are proactive, interactive, and persistent.
Customers will stop doing business with a company after frustrating customer experiences that aren’t seamless across channels. Contact centres offer unrivalled personalisation and agility – which are the building blocks to modern CX. Customers are increasingly in control of their own journey with brands. Brands need to act swiftly to close the experience gap and respond to consumers’ expectations of flexibility and choice in how they interact with brands.
For many brands, customer contact centres provide an untapped opportunity to offer highly personalised interactions. But to deliver this, agents must be equipped with relevant, contextual information. They should have an accurate picture of each individual customer at all times, sewn together by data taken from the wide array of touchpoints through which that customer engages.
This is why customer data platforms (CDPs) have become so vital – they aggregate, unify, and organise data from multiple sources. Businesses are also rushing to reduce their dependence on third-party data with the deprecation of cookies – our Customer Data Platform Report 2022 found a strong uptake of CDPs over the past year.
Combining your CDP with your contact centre is one of the best ways to deliver personalised, memorable experiences. The interaction between the two becomes a virtuous cycle – each feeds the other with real time data, so campaigns automatically get more targeted and personalisation keeps improving. The ISG says that over the next five years, contact centres will play a more strategic and central role in Australian organisations as companies get better at collecting, combining and leveraging customer data in real time and in context.
Volumes have now been written about how the pandemic led to vastly accelerated digital transformation. The moral of the story is this – you have to meet your customers on their channel of choice, and be dynamic enough to get there at speed. Modern, cloud-based contact centres can deliver digital-first engagement with the widest breadth of communication channels, managed on a single platform. And they can be built in a matter of days – not months – making the rapid response now expected possible. The contact centre market is fast growing and for good reason. It has become a critical means of creating consistent, personalised engagement in a digital world. Your agents are your angels, your vehicles of change, and the sooner they are empowered and armed with the right data, the greater the possibilities in engaging and growing with your customers.