Published: November 26, 2018 | Comments
Did you know that 32% of customers worldwide will quit doing business with a brand – even if they love it – because of just one bad experience? This statistic from a PwC survey is an eye-opener for any organization that interfaces with customers on a regular basis. But what constitutes a bad experience? Although the surface reasons may be broad, often the root cause is a failure to evolve the customer service solution.
Digital disruption and shifting customer habits are impacting customer service on a micro and a macro level every day. In the blink of an eye, processes are suddenly obsolete, overtaken by new expectations, strategies, and best practices. Navigating this shifting landscape is challenging and investment in the latest and greatest systems and tools can impact your bottom line. In this environment, partnering with a solid outsourced contact center partner can be the best decision you can make. The key is to find a true strategic partner who you trust to stay ahead of the customer experience curve. Below we explore what you should be looking for.
The Balance Between Man and Machine
More and more customer interactions are happening without any human interaction at all. Thanks to advancements in AI and machine learning, chatbots and other Tier Zero customer service solutions are a great way to handle basic, high-volume customer care interactions on a 24/7/365 basis. The best contact center partner will already be implementing automation in their customer care solutions for support scenarios where it makes sense.
However, it’s not as simple as migrating processes over to shiny new technology. The right partner understands exactly what clients’ customers expect from these digital tools. In particular, though personalization is a hot topic and creating a unique experience might be the trendy thing to do, the PwC survey reveals that 80% of American consumers prioritize speed, convenience, knowledgeable help and friendly service above all other elements of customer service. And it goes without saying that contact center tech tools have to work seamlessly without fail; customers will rarely even notice the technology you’re using unless it breaks down on them. Knowing how technology fits into the big picture of customer care is critical to the success of your outsourced partnership.
There’s a caveat to all this, of course. Automation through AI-driven technologies will never replace the need for human contact center agents. A chatbot can handle transactional care, but for complex, high risk situations or when things have gone sideways with the chatbot, you need empowered, capable humans to rescue your customer with a sophisticated, empathetic approach. Your outsourced partner must be prepared for what this looks like in practice. Hiring, training, and management are going to look very different for this level of service. When you’re seeking a contact center outsourcer, make sure you understand how a potential vendor balances their environment between human and machine. A seamless elegant transition between the two has to be part of your architecture.
The Future of the Contact Center Agent Workforce
The impact of automation and other AI-driven technologies on human agents cannot be ignored. Automating transactional interactions means that agents will primarily be handling more complicated customer care scenarios, and the hiring profile for the right agent must be adjusted accordingly. Communication, problem-solving, and empathy are essential skills. On top of that, the base requirement for technical aptitude in a contact center agent is increasing; even for straight-up customer service scenarios, like supporting an eComm retail customer, for instance, tools and tech interfaces are highly sophisticated. Your agents need the tech chops to be able to maximize effectiveness and create a smooth journey for the customer. Be aware of how a potential contact center partner is evolving their hiring processes and training processes in tandem with customer trends.
Outside of contact center agents, a partner who is prepared for the future will understand how new roles such as data analysts and programmers fit into their workforce strategy. Jobs like these will position the company for seamless technical transition as the landscape continues to evolve.
Finally, find a contact center partner who is already familiar with hiring, training, and managing remote agents – using technology to create a robust employee experience while leveraging all the benefits (scalability/flexibility) of a remote workforce.
A Robust Technical Infrastructure
Even if a potential contact center partner hasn’t implemented specific AI, automation, or Tier Zero tools yet, they should be positioned to do so as your needs evolve. Ask your potential partners about their technology platform and ensure they can deliver maximum flexibility as you add channels and tools and new solutions. Find out before you sign with a new partner what the cost implications of introducing new channels/tools/solutions might be. Ask about upgrade schedules and future plans for launching new digital solutions to be sure their technology road map aligns with your vision of future offerings.
Getting Ahead of the Curve for the Future of Customer Service
Choosing to partner with an outsourced contact center who has their ducks in a row is a no-brainer. But digging deeper to find out if those ducks will still be lined up three to five years from now is an even more important – and often forgotten – detail.
This post originally appeared on the blueocean blog.