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The 2019 resolution: Become a people-first organisation

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/gpointstudio)

From Blockchain, to IoT, to machine learning, 2018 has been a year of advancement in technologies that are changing the entire business landscape. Gartner predicts that, by 2020 (opens in new tab), technology will become a positive net job motivator, creating half a million new jobs. And technology isn’t the only thing that’s evolving: In an effort to stay abreast of customers’ ever-changing demands, companies are adopting new solutions faster than ever before. By 2020 (opens in new tab), 80 per cent of enterprises plan to implement IoT technology and 64 per cent are looking to adopt artificial intelligence (AI) solutions. Yet, with rapid adoption comes new hurdles.

New AI-driven technologies, such as chatbots and voice search, will offer customers convenient self-service options to get in touch with companies. It’s time for companies to think about how these solutions will impact the customer journey. There is a definitive link between digital transformation and the customer experience, and in the rush to adopt new communication channels, businesses are failing to lay the internal groundwork, resulting in an increasingly fragmented journey. Not only does that leave customers feeling frustrated; they’re left craving human interaction in a digital world.

In 2019, the customer experience will hit a breaking point. Customers will expect to seamlessly switch from self-service options such as chat, email or phone, and they’ll want quick and easy access to the right people to answer even the most complex queries. To meet 2019 expectations, businesses should plan customer-centric technology implementations that offer the right mix of new tools and traditional service. Instead of solely funnelling customers toward new solutions, they should focus on maintaining the human touch.

So how do businesses become people-first in 2019? A recent report (opens in new tab) has revealed what customers really want in a digital world—and what companies can do to deliver. Here are five steps that companies can take to accomplish their New Year’s resolution and earn customer loyalty in 2019:

Understand what really drives loyalty

It’s no secret that a great product or service will have customers flocking to buy. In fact, 61 per cent said this is the best way to earn their loyalty. But that’s just a start: 74 per cent of customers are more loyal if they can speak to someone and 50 per cent believe loyalty is built when companies listen and act on a compliant. While it’s certainly important to offer customers new ways to get in touch, it’s not just about location—it’s about having the right people available in the contact centre when customers need them most. So, before deploying new solutions, it’s important to determine whether they bring customers closer to representatives—or take them further away.

Audit the existing tech stack

A key component to creating successful customer experiences is the tech stack. However, in the rush to adopt, many companies are often focusing on what’s new—not what they have. As time passes, technology goals and priorities shift, making it imperative to periodically perform an audit of your existing technologies. During the audit, companies have the opportunity to ask questions about the original implementation goals, whether those goals have changed, if a tool maps to the current customer journey, if it’s a potential source of customer frustration and if it makes the process of getting to a human easier or more cumbersome. With a complete audit, organisations can build a comprehensive tech stack that allows them to hear what customers are saying—and ultimately take a people-first approach.

Innovate with purpose

Technology can certainly offer unprecedented levels of convenience—and customers and employees agree. Forty-one per cent of contact centre agents believe that new technology and implementations alleviate administrative and routine tasks, freeing them up to focus on more pressing customer needs. And customers feel the same. Seventy-six per cent of customers believe that technology helps create a good customer experience. But there’s a caveat: 48 per cent only think innovation is important if it improves customer service.

When deploying new tools, it’s important to look at these solutions through the eyes of both customer and employee to understand the effects. Only then can companies ensure that there will be tangible benefits that enhance the entire customer journey.

Listen to every conversation

While consumers prefer different methods depending on what they’re trying to accomplish, 58 per cent believe that picking up the phone and talking to a representative is the way to get the best and most efficient service.

With speech analytics, organisations can turn unstructured voice data from phone conversations into rich insights. Not only can they analyse customer sentiment, they can match it to actions to understand what customers say versus what they actually do. When those insights are married with data from chat, email, social, web and any other channel, companies gain a comprehensive view of the customer. From there, they can take direct customer feedback to every department across the organisation to empower employees with insights that enable them to empathise and resolve customer complaints.

Elevate the importance of employees

Customers are every company’s focus, but becoming people-first is also about employees. They have the power to make or break the experience, and 54 per cent of customers don’t trust their issue will be addressed if there’s no option to speak to a representative. To become people-first, businesses must give agents the right tools to be effective, such as interaction analytics and time management capabilities. With new technology, they can analyse agent behaviour—and success rates—to inform training strategies and offer rapid feedback to keep them on the path to success. By treating contact centre agents as the knowledgeable workers they are, organisations can truly become people-first—and transform the customer experience.

As 2019 approaches, every business should resolve to be people-first. Not only will it change the way they adopt and deploy solutions, it will change the way they view the people on the other end of every customer interaction: the agents in the contact centre.

Kris McKenzie, Senior Vice President and General Manager for EMEA, Calabrio (opens in new tab)
Image source: Shutterstock/gpointstudio

Kris McKenzie, Senior Vice President and General Manager for EMEA at Calabrio.